Border Patrol offers rare look inside migrant processing facility in McAllen

Migrant Centers

McALLEN, Texas (CNN) — For the first time in months, the U.S. Border Patrol Central Processing Center in McAllen is just under capacity, but there are still about 1,300 immigrants inside the facility waiting to be processed.

Because apprehensions at the border are going down, the main facility where hundreds of migrants are held is not as overcrowded or controversial as once seen, officials said.

But even with the slight decrease in apprehensions since June, the center is still busy.

During a recent and rare media tour, border agents explained to KGBT reporter Sydney Hernandez how migrants are processed.

“We make sure they don’t have contagious diseases,” Agent Oscar Escamilla said. “If they do have fever we will make sure to take the appropriate steps to take care of them. We will transfer them over to the hospital .”

After being medically cleared when they enter, the migrants are then given food and snacks.

“Some crackers, juices. … We’ll also give them a mylar blanket to cover themselves,” Escamilla said. “In addition to that, we’ll give them a shower wipes because we don’t know the last time they received a shower. They’ll be able to wipe themselves down before we get them in a shower so they can take a shower.”

Agents who run the center said migrants shower every 72 hours at the minimum. The agency also provides them with clean clothes.

“We make sure they’re wearing something new if they want it. We also let them wash their clothes,” Escamilla said.

The fencing many refer to as “cages” remains throughout the facility, but agents said there’s a reason for the design.

“I can assign an agent and he’s able to see four (to) five cells down,” Escamilla said. “If we had solid walls, I would have to add personnel just to manage and make sure everyone is safe.”

During their time in custody, all migrants are given phone calls to contact family members and speak to their consulates.

“The migrants as you saw are well taken care of,” Escamilla said. “you saw the kids watching cartoons, interacting and they’re in a very clean facility.”

In July, border authorities apprehended 72,000 immigrants along the Southwest border.

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