Tomorrow, August 1, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will begin to use its civil detention facility in Karnes City to house adults with children in response to the influx of families that have recently illegally entered the United States. The newly modified Karnes County Residential Center is one of several facilities the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is using to increase the capacity to detain and expedite the removal of adults with children illegally crossing the Southwest border. These facilities will help ensure more timely and effective removals, and deter others from taking the dangerous journey and illegally crossing into the United States, all while maintaining important due process and protection claims that individuals may have. In addition to the Karnes facility, ICE is also using a temporary facility in Artesia, New Mexico and a long-standing facility in Leesport, Pennsylvania.
"In the face of unprecedented levels of illegal migration of adults with children and unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley, we have reiterated that our borders are not open to illegal migration; if you come here illegally, and don't have a legal basis to stay under our laws, we will send you back," said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. "The opening of this additional facility represents our continued commitment to provide temporary facilities for adults with children while they undergo removal proceedings, and it is part of DHS' sustained and aggressive campaign to stem the tide of illegal migration from Central America."
On July 11, 2014, ICE modified its contract with Karnes County, Texas, in order to transition the Karnes center from an existing immigration detention facility housing adults to a residential facility to house adults with children. This was done in order to expand the agency's capacity to house adults with children who have been apprehended at the border and placed into expedited removal proceedings. Karnes County Residential Center will be able to accommodate up to 532 adults with children.
ICE's family detention facilities are an effective and humane alternative to maintain family unity as families await the outcome of immigration hearings or return to their home countries. Adults with children will be housed in facilities that adequately provide for their safety, security, and medical needs. ICE ensures that family detention facilities operate in an open environment, which includes classrooms with state-certified teachers, access to an online legal library, and bilingual teachers.