A look inside the soft-sided facility in Tucson that will house hundreds

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 5:48 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Hundreds of migrants will be housed temporarily in a new shelter that has gone up in days in Tucson.

For the first time, the public got a look inside the soft-sided facility that went up off Valencia in Tucson. The facility will hold 200-250 migrants, migrant children and their families, most of them expected to be young children.

Border Patrol said they have seen a 100 percent increase in unaccompanied children coming into their custody over the last fiscal year. Many of them will now come to the new facility for a 72 hour stay. A large white, tarp tent holds a small medical facility, gendered, simple, communal shower stations and a turfed recreation center. A few sports balls and porta-potties were scattered around the recreation center. Showers and recreation time is to be scheduled for migrants and children staying there.

“Everybody is afforded a shower upon arrival, and then every 48 hours,” Robert Bushell, special operations supervisor, CBP.

There is no mess hall—people will eat and sleep in gendered, and aged pods—each with several “rooms” walled off with clear plastic. Border Patrol said they will try to keep teens with teens, younger children with younger children within the pods. Plastic floor cots and cushions for 16 people to sleep in each room. Communal sinks and toilets are in the room too. A TV and a children’s toy are displayed. The doors are not locked.

“It’s much better than some of the facilities that we’ve seen, and the reality that we’ve seen stop gap measures that are woefully inadequate,” said Juanita Molina, with Border Action Network. “I’m glad to see this happen in a more fulfilling way.”

Officials said relatives will be kept together in their own rooms. There is a telephone center with more than a dozen phones to make free calls, and multipurpose room, likely to be scheduled activities—not a free for all.

“We’ll have caregivers here to assist, we’ll have all kinds of books for them, but as I said consulate interviews could happen here,” said Anthony Divens, CBP.

Border Patrol said their current structures were not built to hold the flood of migrants coming into the country, especially for how many are so young. They call the addition of this facility, “substantial.”

“This place increases our capacity to be able to hold these folks until HHS is prepared to accept them,” said Bushell.

The facility was built in 20 days. It could start housing migrants and their families as soon as sometime next week.

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