Jun 18, 2014 11:16 PM by Lauren Reimer
NOGALES - For the very first time, members of the media got a chance to see inside the U.S. Border Patrol Nogales detention facility. Our cameras were not allowed inside; instead video was handed out after the tour was over.
In it, you won't see any of the children's faces. A Border Patrol spokesperson said it is to ensure their safety and anonymity.
There are currently 900 children from Central America are being held in Nogales. They're all kids caught crossing the border illegally in Texas without adults.
The feds started transferring them to Southern Arizona because the Texas shelters were filled to capacity.
When they arrive in Nogales, the kids get a shower, food and a medical exam with vaccines. Then they are segregated by age and gender.
All of the children here are under 17-years-old. Some of the older girls have babies of their own, others are pregnant. Siblings are on occasion allowed to stay together, if one is very young, and they are of the same gender.
After intake, the kids are placed into rooms surrounded by high chain link fences, topped with razor wire. A Border Patrol spokesperson says these enclosures were constructed back in the early 2000's, when the only people staying at this facility were adult border-crossers.
Since then, the facility has had some work done. New portable showers and bathroom facilities have been brought in.
Immigration activists have accused Border Patrol of keeping the kids in harsh conditions.
Inside the converted warehouse, the children have been sleeping on thick floor mats with mylar blankets, but no pillows.
With the mats spread out on the floors, there is not a lot of room left for the children to move around, but they do get outside for about an hour each day. While we were there, children could be seen playing basketball, and playing with hula hoops.
Kids can call their family members who are already here in the U.S. with one of 40 phones available for them to use. Many do have family here according to the Tucson Border Patrol Union President Art Del Cueto.
Del Cuerto worries, with all the extra agents working at the Nogales facility, it might leave the border weakened and open to other problems like drug trafficking.
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