Shocking photos emerged last week, taken by a journalist with HBO's Vice TV, showing illegal immigrants being housed under an overpass near El Paso, Texas, after the local border patrol facilities ran out of room to house the thousands of migrants crossing the United States border.
This weekend, Customs and Border Protection officials moved the migrants, but acknowledged that it's having trouble handling the influx of migrants across the Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico borders, and facilities are busting at the seams.
The photos, which made the rounds on social media last week, show recently arrived illegal immigrants in the process of being vetted by both border patrol and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement living together inside fencing under an El Paso overpass.
I spent today in El Paso reporting from the border, where hundreds of migrants (many of them children), are being detained under a bridge, behind razor wire and fence, in conditions reminiscent of a low-budget zoo, and I think it’s important to share a few things I saw and heard pic.twitter.com/ImJx3UWVQO— Roberto Ferdman (@robferdman) March 29, 2019
MSN reports that the "makeshift encampment" "was set up last week after the main border processing center in El Paso reached up to 400 percent of its capacity in the largest influx of migrants to the United States in years."
Immigrants housed at the facility were held in military tents and provided with "limited hot food."
When Vice re-contacted CBP over the weekend, the makeshift encampment had been dismantled and the illegal immigrants were being held pending assessment on their claims of asylum.
Border patrol officials have not denied that conditions along the border are deteriorating, and that the situation is beyond their ability to manage. "Similar scenes are unfolding at border stations across the 1,900-mile frontier, where Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said last week that facilities had reached a 'breaking point,'" according to MSN.
CBP is dealing with what they've termed a "spring surge" in migration as mostly Central American families and unaccompanied minors have flooded facilities across Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. According to the El Paso border patrol operation, facilities are processing approximately 2,200 migrants per day in facilities that can house only around 1,500.
The number of migrants arriving at the border attempting to declare asylum are reportedly dwarfing last year's totals, and thousands more are expected in the coming months before the Texas heat becomes dangerous and the journey from Honduras through Mexico to the United States border becomes potentially deadly.
“The system is in free-fall. DHS is doing everything possible to respond to a growing humanitarian catastrophe while also securing our borders, but we have reached peak capacity and are now forced to pull from other missions to respond to the emergency,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told media last week.
President Donald Trump has already declared an unofficial emergency at the southern border, and is working on an official "national emergency" declaration that would allow the White House to reroute funds from other military projects to the border, but the help may come too little too late.
Ironically, pro-immigration activists, who just weeks ago accused the White House of manufacturing a border crisis so as to force Congress to approve what they believe is a "racist" solution — the border wall — are now accusing the Trump administration of not acting quickly enough to handle the flow of migrants, telling MSN that the surge was "predictable" and that "the Trump administration chose not to prepare for it."