Cameras have been allowed inside the country’s largest migrant processing center, showing families and children sleeping on mats on the floor as border officials struggle to cope with a massive influx of illegal crossings.
The Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, colloquially known as Ursula for its street address, is a retrofitted warehouse that can hold more than 1,000 people for Customs and Border Protection processing.
The facility gained notoriety last year, when photos showed the 77,000 square-foot building crammed with children sleeping on the floor amid the child separation uproar.
Now, cameras for CBS News have been given unlimited access to the facility, where migrants reported sanitary conditions and ample hot meals for the 815 families currently being held there.
Venezeulan national Angelina Estrada speaks with new CBS Evening News anchor Nora O’Donnell inside the Urusla Cental Processing Facility in McAllen, Texas
Estrada said that she knew that she would be able to remain in the U.S. if she crossed the border illegally with a child
Adults and children are seen lying of floor mats inside of the processing facility
Women and children lie on the floor amid space blankets and behind cyclone fencing at the Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas last week
The facility, which was built in 2014 and can house more than 1,000, is in McAllen, Texas
Inside, Nora O’Donnell, who took over the anchor desk at CBS Evening News on Monday, interviewed a Venezuelan woman who was detained along with her two-year-old son.
Angelina Estrada said that she knew that she would be able to remain in the U.S. if she crossed the border illegally with a child.
Estrada said that she and her son are getting warm food and diapers, but also said they’re sleeping on the floor on padded mats.
O’Donnell reported that there are nearly 300 unaccompanied children at Ursula, who are being cared for by members of the Coast Guard.
Border officials have appealed to Congress to address the crisis on the border
A child is seen napping in the play area at the facility in McAllen
Women and children lie on th floor behind cyclone fencing at the Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas last week
Present for the tour was Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, who reiterated his desperate appeal to Congress to both fix broken immigration laws and improve funding at the border.
‘I made the decision to take the risk in bringing cameras in to be transparent about what we’re facing,’ McAleenan said.
‘I think we need a national conversation based on the facts that are actually happening on our border to try to address and solve the problems,’ he continued.
McAleenan said a lack of funding from Congress has been a ‘critical issue.’
He said the solution is a so-called tent city, named Donna, which is expanding.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan (above) reiterated his desperate appeal to Congress to both fix broken immigration laws and improve funding at the border
He said the solution is a so-called tent city, named Donna (above), which is expanding
Ursula was built in 2014 in response to the surge in unaccompanied minors and family units from Central America crossing the border illegally.
This year, CBP has reported a massive surge of family units illegally crossing the southern border.
Since September, 390,308 family units have been apprehended crossing the southern border illegally, a 469 percent jump from the same period the year prior.
And in the same time period, 63,624 unaccompanied children have been apprehended crossing the border illegally, a 70 percent jump from the year prior.
‘It’s hard to look away, there’s no doubt there’s a crisis,’ O’Donnell said in a brief monologue at the end of the newscast.