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Feds Renew Plans To Fly Central American Families From Texas To San Diego

Feds Renew Plans To Fly Central American Families From Texas To San Diego

Immigrants with children could soon be transferred from South Texas to San Diego to relieve pressure on border authorities there who are facing an unprecedented influx of Central American families.

This is the second time this month that such a move has been announced. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official told the Associated Press last week that 300 Central American migrants would be flown to San Diego and the Imperial Valley for processing. But a day later, the agency backtracked.

This time the CBP’s Washington media office sent out a news release with only vague details. From the release:

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection is making further arrangements to transport adults with children from the Rio Grande Valley to the Laredo and El Paso Sectors in Texas and San Diego and El Centro Sectors in California.”

A CBP spokesperson in San Diego said he had no further information.

Once in the San Diego area, the families would be interviewed and processed by CBP and then turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, usually within a few days.

Under normal circumstances, ICE would then determine whether to release the family with a notice to appear in immigration court or at an ICE office (depending, for example, on whether the family intends to seek asylum), or to send the family to a detention center. Immigrants who are released may be required to wear a GPS bracelet or check in periodically with immigration authorities.

Currently, ICE only has one detention center for immigrant families, in Berks County, Pennsylvania, with space for fewer than 100 families. However, it’s opening a new 700-bed facility at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, N.M. in hopes of speeding up deportations.

Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the AP that about 39,000 adults with children had been apprehended while trying to illegally cross the border from Mexico since Oct. 1, 2013.

The federal government is struggling to house the recent wave of Central American immigrants apprehended at the border; most are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. This includes more than 52,000 children caught traveling without adults.

Earlier this month, border authorities began transporting children from South Texas to Nogales, Arizona for processing. The government also opened three, large temporary shelters for immigrant children on military bases — in Ventura, Calif., Fort Sill, Okla. and San Antonio, Texas.

Federal authorities sought to open a 96-bed shelter for immigrant children in Escondido. The city’s Planning Commission denied the request after an outpouring of public opposition at a hearing this week.

KPBS' Patty Lane and Peggy Pico contributed to the Evening Edition segment.