Potential migrant tent facility discussed for fairgrounds

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 11:45 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - The federal government is eyeing a piece of county property as a potential site for a migrant tent facility.

Commissioners court granted CBP entry to the fairgrounds property on Monday morning to survey the land for the project.

”We’re trying to protect not only our people and our constituents here, but also the people that are coming in too.”

Monday’s regular commissioners court meeting had an agenda item that would allow the judge to grant the federal government the right to enter 30 acres of Webb County property.

”We’re just giving them permission to go and check it out because they’re going to do a feasibility, they’re checking the water, they’re checking the sewer all that because it may not even work for them,” said Judge Tano Tijerina.

During the meeting Matthew Hudack, the Laredo sector Chief Patrol agent for U.S. Border Patrol, asked commissioners if they could use the county fairgrounds land for a potential migrant tent facility.

”It’s a soft-sided kinda tent structure similar to what is now placed in Eagle Pass and over in Donna, as well. It’s a facility with a capacity to hold approximately 500 people.”

Hudak says their current facility can’t keep up with the increasing number of illegal crossings so this could help manage the flow.

With the extra space they can intake, process and screen migrants arrested in Laredo and other sectors and provide services like security, medical and food.

”And then moving them either into ICE ero facilities for placement, or movement to other parts of the country, or releases that we’re coordinating with the city and NGO’s here, locally.”

It won’t be a permanent structure and will not house any criminal suspects.

Hudak says it’s possible that the facility could be up for a year, but it really depends on the need.

County civil legal director Nathan Bratton explained that the preliminary contracts with the federal government ask for 13 months and four six month extensions.

The facility is set up it could be around when the fairgrounds gets more active.

Judge Tijerina had this to say to folks who may be concerned:

“We have 137 acres there. We are very much going to separate that whole situation, and I just want to make sure everybody doesn’t get it confused and think oh the fairgrounds is one little spot, we have a vast amount of area there that could be used and would be isolated in a sense.”

Commissioners court offered to help CBP with COVID testing or vaccinations if needed.

The facility would hire roughly 180 employees with a starting salary of $18 an hour and up.

Additionally, Tijerina tells us the county is now a part of the state’s disaster declaration, but not part of the group calling for a border wall.

He says the county has in the past issued a resolution voicing their opposition to a physical barrier.

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