First immigrants arrive at Karnes facility

KARNES COUNTY (KENS 5)-- Around 40 women and children who are in the United States illegally have arrived at Karnes County Detention Facility for Undocumented Families, the first detention center in Texas designed to house families.

The first bus arrived around 7:30 a.m. Friday, and another bus was seen pulling in around 2 p.m.

Women and children will have everything they need as they wait to see what happens next.

"Each case is unique," said Enrique Lucero, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "Of course they are not free to leave if they become eligible for a bond at some point, they may be able to post a bond. If they are granted asylum obviously they will be released. If they are ordered removed ICE will affect that removal. Each case is unique but ICE is in the custody of these individuals."

And while undocumented women and children from Central America are under the care of ICE, they'll be well taken care of.

The 29-acre facility has dorm rooms that can accommodate up to eight people. Residents are allowed to move freely through the detention center and there's plenty to do.

"We are in the state of Texas where it requires children that are in a detention facility to go to school and to be provided these activities," said Lucero. "So while they're doing their due process in going through the immigration proceedings we will provide that safe environment for them."

As the first busses pulled in Friday, area law enforcement officers remained vigilant.

"My concern right now is public safety," said Karnes County Sheriff, Dwayne Villanueva. "Make sure we get them in there as quick as possible and out and just monitor the traffic at this time."

As busses come and go over the next several weeks, Villanueva said he's prepared for anything.

"It's been a smooth transition," said Villanueva. "We're hoping it continues to be like that. Our main goal along with DPS and local police departments is we were worried about the protestors, but right now it's good. It's been smooth."

Customs and Border Protection said more than 55,000 people have crossed the border illegally since October, most of them women and children.

ICE said it's possible more family detention centers may be necessary in the near future.

ICE contracts with Karnes County which contracts with GEO to operate this facility which holds 532 people.

At capacity it will cost about $74,000 a day to operate this detention center.


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