Flu Forces Temporary Suspension of Detention Center

Credit: Nastco

(Español) The McAllen Central Processing Center recently suspended intake of new immigrants due to an outbreak of “a flu related illness.” The processing center, the largest migrant processing center in South Texas, closed its doors to new arrivals after 32 individuals in the facility were tested positive for influenza. All the tested individuals were treated either on site or in a local hospital. The facility was able to resume normal operations about a day later. The temporary suspension of operations of intakes at the facility comes amidst claims from immigrant and human rights activists noting the recent deaths of children while in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Since December of 2018, six children have passed away while in the care of the CBP, including a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy who became ill at the McAllen Central Processing Center and died a short time later. In the decade prior, not a single child has died while in custody of CBP. This stark departure from the previous decade has brought scrutiny to the living conditions of detainees. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas recently brought complaints of the livings conditions of those detained across Texas. In their complaint, they cite unclean conditions where people are often denied basic hygienic equipment or showers, migrants who are forced to sleep outside on gravel or pavement and forced to spend all day outside in the Texas heat. Additionally, the ACLU found evidence of migrants being denied medicine and water. In response to the recent deaths and increased scrutiny, many border patrol stations are now have 24 hour access to medical staff and CBP officials now transport on average about 70 children per day to local and dedicated medical facilities. Additionally, CBP officials are asking Congress for billions more in funding to address the influx of migrants and provide increased humanitarian aid and improved facilities.