Tents for processing center going up

Published: Jul. 22, 2019 at 11:26 AM CDT
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A tent facility that will house future immigration court proceedings is coming to the Gateway City.

City officials met with the federal government on Monday as they continued to push for the Department of Homeland Security to consider a city-owned property instead of tents.

Officials say this is the first tent facility that will be specifically used for asylum hearings that are going up in the country, something that Laredo officials are not happy with.

Mayor Pete Saenz and city staff have been working for weeks to make a deal with the federal government to abandon the tent idea and move into a city-owned property, specifically El Portal.

City officials went to Washington D.C. last week to negotiate the proposal but instead ended up disappointed when the Department of Homeland Security said there was too much in motion to stop.

On Monday, a team from Washington came to take a closer look at the deal.

Mayor Saenz says they are working towards evaluating the El Portal area to see if it qualifies under their guidelines, but until then, the federal government will continue to work on the structure.

It is said that an average of 200-250 migrants will be having their cases heard in this facility before a virtual judge from the hours of six in the morning to eight at night.

This is all part of the Migrant Protection Protocol which was recently implemented by the federal government in Laredo.

It is because of the MPP that the city is seeing these soft-sided structures go up.

Mayor Saenz says through the program, the most they can stay within the tent area is 12 months, so they would have to take them down or reconsider a different program.

In the meantime, the mayor is hoping to get the switch before the tents cover their proposal.

Mayor Saenz says the City of Brownsville will also see asylum processing tents.

The first court proceedings scheduled for August 20th.