DONNA, Texas (AP) — A compound of tents to detain migrant children and families was evacuated for hours this week when struck by fierce winds in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, authorities said.
All migrants at the Border Patrol’s holding center in Donna, Texas, were moved to other facilities in the Rio Grande Valley, parent agency U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. Operations resumed at the Donna Processing Facility on Wednesday morning, with new arrivals being admitted.
The U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which has an adjoining tent compound designed for longer stays, evacuated about 150 of 1,320 unaccompanied children held there after one of its dorms suffered storm damage, spokeswoman Isabel Estrada said. The children returned Wednesday morning.
The storm developed late Tuesday and brought overnight wind gusts over 70 mph (112 kph), knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers.
It was not immediately known how many migrants were evacuated by the Border Patrol. CBP said it had 421 unaccompanied children in custody as of Tuesday. The agency held more than 4,000 migrants at the Donna facility in late March — mostly unaccompanied children and some families — in a space designed for up to 250 under coronavirus pandemic guidelines.
The Biden administration dramatically reduced time in Border Patrol custody as it massively expanded its network of Health and Human Services facilities. One of its 14 emergency intake centers adjoins the Border Patrol facility in Donna. As of Tuesday, Health and Human Services had 20,519 children in its care.