EL PASO, Texas — Immigration advocates on Monday called on lawmakers and the Department of Homeland Security to build a permanent processing center in the El Paso area.
A new facility should be built to alleviate harsh conditions immigrant families and children are enduring in makeshift facilities, according to a group of nine advocates that signed a letter addressed to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.
“We cannot remain indifferent to the non-stop stream of migrant families and children enduring unspeakable conditions in substandard facilities. As faith leaders and advocates,” said Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute.
The letter comes right after a new controversy, this one involving children with many shortcomings — and allegedly being made to take care of younger minors — at a holding facility in Clint.
The advocates called on the federal government and elected officials to take “the essential next step” needed to ensure the rights of asylum seekers: the construction of an adequate holding facility.
Among those signing the petition are El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz, leaders of the Hope Border Institute, Diocesan and Migrant Refugee Services, Catholic Charities, the Annunciation House and Holy Cross Retreat Center, as well as lawyer Carlos Spector, counsel for Mexicans in Exile.
The letter quotes a recent report from the Office of the Inspector General exposing overcrowding, lengthy detentions, inadequate access to medical care and conditions suitable to maintain personal hygiene.
“We have also witnessed a troubling number of tragic and preventable deaths of migrants held in government custody, including young children,” said the letter dated June 24.
The advocates stated that the crisis resulting from the ongoing immigration surge, primarily from Central America, “has brought our community together in an unprecedented way to provide a humane response to those seeking safety and security at our border.”