EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A facility designed to house unaccompanied migrant girls is opening soon in a West El Paso neighborhood.
Near the Coronado Country Club, Casa Mariposa is the future home for migrant girls ages 12-17. The facility was once fit to care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease but is now renovated to shelter the children, holding up to 104 beds.
No girls have arrived yet, but Krista Piferrer, the BCFS Health and Human Services Vice President of External Affairs, said licensing will be complete at the end of the month, when officials expect to receive the first group of girls.
Piferrer gave KTSM an inside look of the facility ahead of its opening.
Piferrer said the girls will come directly from Border Patrol custody to “Casa Mariposa” where they will first be medically assessed and screened for COVID-19.
“The girls who test positive will be isolated in a portion of the facility that’s able to care for COVID- positive, the rest of the girls will be brought to a separate part of the facility where they will be under a seven day observation period,” Piferrer said.
Those under observation will also get tested again on their fifth day at the facility.
The facility has several hallways of bedrooms, some with four beds, others with two, depending on the square-footage of each room.
In addition to the bedrooms, there is a dining hall, several recreation centers both indoors and outdoors, multiple classrooms, medical facilities, and an area for case management all on-site.
Casa Mariposa is looking for 188 employees to operate the facility, since the girls will be supervised 24/7 with full schedules.
“They wake up in the morning, then start school and on weekdays they usually attend class for 6 hours a day then we have recreational areas, recess, the option to hang out, then the regular business of trying to get ready for bed, take showers and brush their teeth,” Piferrer said.
Piferrer said the girls will stay at Casa Mariposa until they are reunited with their sponsor. She said typically most leave after a few weeks, or sooner once they are out of isolation, but no longer than a month on average. She added that nobody can leave until they test negative for COVID-19.
Casa Mariposa is funded by government grants and the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Those funds help provide supplies for the girls such as their own personal duffle bag, fresh clothing, toiletries, shoes, school supplies and hygiene products.
Piferrer said they are seeing a lower positivity rate for COVID-19, attributing it to migrant children being less exposed to crowded border patrol facilities.
Staff members are all required to be vaccinated and wear full PPE when dealing with those who are COVID-positive, and the girls must also wear masks the entire time they are in public areas of the facility.
BCFS Health and Human Services took over the lease of Casa Mariposa in early February, where they then started renovating the facility to accommodate children.