The United States is set to open the first detention center specifically designed for immigrant mothers from Central America in the hope of sending a message to potential undocumented immigrants that the country does have somewhere to keep them and that they will not simply be released.
The facility, which is situated in rural Karnes County about 100 kilometers south-east of San Antonio, was revealed to the media yesterday and will start receiving immigrants today. It is capable of housing as many as 532 adults and children on a site that spans 29 acres. Many of the women who have arrived in the United States with their children believe that they will automatically be released ‒ a false belief, says the Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Division of Enforcement and Removals Operation regional director Enrique Lucero.
“The US border is not open to illegal immigration, and after your immediate detention and due process there is every likelihood you will be returned to your home country,” Lucero told reporters during a tour of the facility. Officials in the United States are trying to deal with a recent massive increase in immigrants from Central America, particularly mothers with small children and youngsters traveling alone.
The Karnes County Residential Center has been refurbished to be suitable for housing mothers and children, and those detained there can expect an average stay of 23 days. “The immigration courts are treating families with children as a priority, so they will be seen prior to anyone else who is in detention,” Lucero confirms.