The surge of Central American families seeking asylum at U.S. borders is not letting up, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday after touring a temporary holding facility in the Rio Grande Valley set up to manage the influx.
The number of apprehensions along the southwestern border can be close to 2,000 a day — with most people turning themselves in, Kerlikowske said in a phone interview. The November influx was as high as what was seen in October: 46,195, he said.
The precise monthly number is to be announced next week.
The facility at the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge is due to open Friday and process up to 500 people a day. The 40,000-square-foot white canopy tent is in a field near the river, surrounded by a barbed wire-topped fence.
Kerlikowske toured a similar facility Tuesday that is already up-and-running in Tornillo, near El Paso. Officials say the facilities will be running as long as they’re needed.
The goal is to get people processed more quickly, 24 hours for unaccompanied minors and 72 hours for families. The tent will have showers, laundry and a first aid station, and Kerlikowske said the migrants would get outdoor exercise daily.
Kerlikowske said he could not comment on what effect, if any, the weekend release of 470 migrant children and parents from two Texas detention centers would have on Border Patrol processing. Those centers are run by a separate division of the Department of Homeland Security.
The release followed a ruling Friday by a state judge that the state could not license the privately run detention centers as child-care facilities.
A steady influx of Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty in their homelands began in 2014.