White House approves deferred deportations for Venezuelans
Texas warehouse where migrants housed in 'cages' closed for humane renovation
The Texas warehouse where migrants were housed in chain link "cages" has been closed for humane renovations.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that room partitions at the Rio Grande Valley Central Processing Center will be "designed and built which afford modest housing accommodations."
The facility will also allow more space for individuals to interact with nongovernmental organization (NGO) representatives. It will also have a common recreation area for young children and modern processing areas.
The center's capacity will also be reduced from 1,500 to 1,100.
The new design will "allow for updated accommodations, which will greatly improve the operating efficiency of the center as well as the welfare of individuals being processed," the spokesperson said. The facility is expected to be fully operational by early 2022.
The renovations were first reported by The Washington Post.
The facility was opened in 2014 during the Obama administration and was first used to hold migrant children from Central America, The Associated Press notes. The Trump administration later used the center as part of its "zero tolerance" policy on border crossings.
When the press was allowed inside the facility, the chainlink fencing sparked immediate outrage, the Post notes. "Kids in cages" became a rallying cry against the inhumane treatment of migrants.
The topic came up during the second presidential debate between President Trump and then-candidate Joe Biden during an exchange over the administration losing 545 migrant children.
"What happened? Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated and now they cannot find over 500 sets of those parents, and those kids are alone. Nowhere to go, nowhere to go. It's criminal," a clearly impassioned Biden said.
In response, Trump accused the Obama administration of beginning the policy and building the facilities.
"Who built the cages, Joe? Who built the cages, Joe?" prodded Trump repeatedly.
The renovations are being made with funds from Congress, the spokesperson said. The agency said it "consistently reevaluates future operational requirements to support the safe and legal processing" of migrants if border crossings surge.