(CNSNews.com) - As unaccompanied children and "family units" continue pouring across the southern border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced on Wednesday it has opened a "temporary holding facility" near an international bridge in Donna, Texas.
The facility, a 40,000-square-foot white tent, can hold up to 500 people, and it will remain open "pending any changes in the volume of people arriving at the ports of entry or crossing the border between the ports in South Texas."
CBP said some individuals may have to stay in the holding facility for up to 72 hours until CBP finishes processing them (identification and preliminary health checks). After that, the illegal aliens will be turned over to either the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS-ORR) or ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
“CBP officers and agents remain committed to upholding our border security mission and enforcing our immigration laws while treating those with whom we come in contact with the highest degree of professionalism, dignity and respect,” said David P. Higgerson, Director of Field Operations in the Laredo Field Office.
CBP said it is continuing to work with other federal and international agencies to discourage potential illegal border crossers from making the dangerous trip to enter the U.S. illegally. But the warnings of what can happen to children and other vulnerable migrants are not having the intended effect.
According to the Associated Press, the number of apprehensions along the Southwest border is running close to 2,000 a day, with most people turning themselves in.
The new temporary holding facility went up near the Donna-Rio International Bridge, and press reports say it will house women and children.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske told the Associated Press on Wednesday that some 46,195 people crossed the border illegally in November alone, about the same level as October.
The Department of Homeland Security says fewer Mexicans and single adults are crossing the border, while more families and unaccompanied children are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.
In Fiscal Year 2016, 59,692 unaccompanied alien children crossed the southern border, a 49.3 percent increase from the 39,970 in Fiscal 2015. Likewise, 77,674 family units crossed the southern border in the last fiscal year, a whopping 94.9 percent increase from the 39,838 who crossed in Fiscal 2015.
In an October news release, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the U.S. will continue to enforce its immigration laws "consistent with our enforcement priorities. This has included, and will continue to include, providing individuals with an opportunity to assert claims for asylum and other forms of humanitarian relief."
Johnson also said border security alone, including walls, will not prevent Central Americans from fleeing the "powerful push factors of poverty and violence."
"Ultimately, the solution is long-term investment in Central America to address the underlying push factors in the region," Johnson said. "We continue to work closely with our federal partners and the governments in the region, and are pleased with the $750 million Congress approved in FY 2016 for support and aid to Central America. We urge Congress to provide additional resources in FY 2017."
The stopgap spending bill that Congress is about to pass will fund the government at current levels through April 28, 2017.
The continuing resolution also includes "provisions needed to prevent catastrophic, irreversible, or detrimental changes to government programs, to support our national security, and to ensure good government," according to a summary posted
One of those provisions allows "additional funding, if needed, for the housing and care of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) after February 1, 2017. Due to the variability in the increased number of children coming into the country, it is possible that additional funds may be needed at that time."