Officials are trying to handle an influx of new arrivals, many of
them unaccompanied children and teens from Central America, that has
crowded facilities in Texas and led to efforts to move some to other
"U.S. Border Patrol San Diego Sector is sending Mobile Response Team
trained agents from San Diego to enhance processing and detention
capabilities in the Rio Grande Valley," said Gabe Pacheco, spokesman
for the National Border Patrol Council Local 1613, which covers San
He said in a statement that additional resources would be deployed
immediately to South Texas "to facilitate increased effectiveness."
Lombardo Amaya, president of the union's chapter in neighboring El
Centro, also in Southern California, said it too was sending patrol
agents and vehicles to the Rio Grande.
He said 20 to 30 agents would be sent for up to 45 days, and that
they would be working long shifts six days a week.
"Among them are trained EMTs (emergency medical technicians,) first
responders and search and rescue people," he said. "There are about
5,000 people waiting to be processed in Texas now."
SURGE OF NEW ARRIVALS
More than 47,000 unaccompanied minors are thought to have entered
the United States illegally between October and May, nearly twice as
many as the previous year, many of them fleeing poverty and gang
violence in countries such as El Salvador and Honduras. President
Barack Obama has called the flood of illegal immigrant children an
urgent humanitarian crisis but has also warned parents not to send
their children on the long journey, saying they would be sent back.
Plans to begin flying the immigrants to California from Texas for
processing were abruptly called off last weekend without public
explanation. Border Patrol union officials said that was due to
[to top of second column]
On Friday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said it was
making further arrangements to transport adults with children from
the Rio Grande Valley to the Laredo and El Paso areas of Texas and
to Southern California.
"The movement will allow the U.S. Border Patrol in less congested
areas to assist in processing family units from South Texas," it
said in a statement.
After processing, it said, family groups will be handed to
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which will decide whether to
keep them in custody on a case-by-case basis, "prioritizing national
security and public safety."
The surge in new arrivals comes as a number of U.S. groups push for
policy reform to let the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants
in the United States obtain a pathway to citizenship. Many
Republicans say the Obama administration is not doing enough to
secure the southern border.
(Reporting by Marty Graham; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Dan Grebler
and Sandra Maler)
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