A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows President Trump’s temporary tent city for unaccompanied alien children (UAC) at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Tornillo, Texas Land Port of Entry (LPOE) has dramatically expanded its capabilities over the last several months.
Tornillo’s tent city was designed to temporarily house 450 children under the supervision of HHS in June, when Trump’s zero-tolerance policy separated over 2,500 migrant children from their parents.
Now, the temporary shelter has 3,800 beds for UACs between ages 13 and 17, 1,400 of those beds are on special reverse status.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and HHS said the expansion of the facility was imperative due to the influx of immigrant children arriving at the Mexico-US border without family members.
The official in charge of Tornillo’s facility told NBC on Friday, “there is no question whatsoever,” that the rise in migrant children being detained by the CBP is due to the “extra precautions” the Trump admin is now preparing to match children with family members, including their biological parents, if possible.
The official said that as of Oct. 12th, 826 out of the 1,500 children in Tornillo were awaiting background checks before they could be transferred to family members or homes within the US.
Children at Tornillo stay an average of 59 days, up from roughly 30 days under the Obama administration, according to HHS.
Federal officials have been strict with journalists on tours of the facility; there are no cameras, recorders, and or cell phones allowed inside.
The official notes that children have access to legal services, medical care, outside activities, cable television, and religious services.
DHS and HHS released new footage last week showing a rare glimpse inside the Tornillo facility: