Weslaco, TX–Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson traveled to Artesia, N.M. and Weslaco, Texas with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Winkowski, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Executive Associate Director Tom Homan, and Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs Dr. Kathryn Brinsfield.
While in Artesia, Secretary Johnson inspected the Artesia Temporary Facility for Adults with Children at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) campus to view the ongoing government-wide response to the influx of adults traveling with children and unaccompanied children across the southwest border. In Weslaco, Secretary Johnson met with state officials to discuss this urgent humanitarian situation.
At the Artesia Temporary Facility for Adults with Children, Secretary Johnson, joined by Senator Martin Heinrich and Artesia Mayor Phillip Burch, reviewed site operations and met with ICE ERO and Homeland Security Investigations personnel and FLETC Director Connie Patrick to review and discuss operations in support of addressing the recent influx of adults traveling with children and unaccompanied children. During his visit, Secretary Johnson reiterated that the establishment of this facility allows ICE to increase our capacity to hold and expedite the removal of these individuals, but long term solutions are needed to address the urgent humanitarian situation. On June 20, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the establishment of this temporary facility for adults traveling with children on FLETC’s Artesia, N.M. campus.
“Our message is clear. If you come to this country illegally, we will send you back – consistent with our laws and values,” said Secretary Johnson. “This facility demonstrates our commitment to building additional capacity to do this quickly, safely and humanely.”
Secretary Johnson then traveled to Weslaco, Texas where he met with Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and Texas Health and Human Services Commission Executive Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janek to discuss the situation related to the influx of unaccompanied children across the southwest border. This meeting follows President Obama’s meeting with Governor Rick Perry earlier this week. During the meeting, Secretary Johnson highlighted the importance of continued communication with state and local officials in managing this situation and a sustained and appropriately resourced response to this challenge.
As part of the continuing U.S. government-wide response to address this humanitarian situation, the White House this week announced its request for emergency supplemental funding that will assist government agencies, including DHS, in four key areas: deterrence actions; enforcement initiatives; foreign cooperation; and capacity to detain, care for and transport unaccompanied children.
Over the past few months, CBP has seen a significant increase in the apprehension of unaccompanied children and adults with children from Central America in the Rio Grande Valley area of the southwest border. While overall border apprehensions across our entire border have only slightly increased during this time period and remain at near historic lows, the rise in apprehensions and processing of children in the Rio Grande Valley presents unique operational challenges for DHS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).