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Overcrowding affects immigration detention facilities in Texas

Experts from the Texas Border Patrol say they are struggling to stay on top of the flood of immigrants who are attempting to enter the U.S., but they are running out of room for these individuals in area detention facilities. Authorities in the Rio Grande Valley say they have made about 160,000 arrests in the past eight months, which is a significant increase over last year. Many of those accused of illegal immigration are shuttled off to detention centers in Laredo and other areas, but overcrowding has become an increasingly serious concern.

Officials say that as many as 44 immigrants are being crammed into cells that are designed to only hold about 17 to 25 people. The overcrowding is generally not a permanent situation, but even temporary overflow is disconcerting to those who are advocating for immigrants' rights. Facilities are simply not designed to handle the volume of immigrants that are currently being housed there, and ventilation systems are struggling to keep up. Some immigrants were even being held in vehicles parked outside the detention facilities.

The composition of the population of illegal immigrants has also changed in recent years, with more immigrants seeking relief from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Those people who come from longer distances require additional processing and cannot simply be shuttled across the border. That is why many of those immigrants are cut loose pending a formal immigration hearing in court.

No matter an individual's nationality or legal status, they deserve to be treated with respect. Those seeking asylum or permanent residency should not be crammed into inhumane conditions in detention centers simply because of protocol. Those people deserve a legal advocate to help protect their interests as they go through the immigration process.

Source: The Washington Times, "Border Patrol overwhelmed in South Texas" Christopher Sherman, The Associated Press, May. 30, 2014

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