Ariz. rushes supplies to site holding migrant kids
PHOENIX (AP) — Angry about the federal government sending from Texas to Arizona immigrants who are in the country illegally, Arizona officials say they are rushing federal supplies to a makeshift holding center in the southern part of the state that’s housing hundreds of migrant children and is running low on the basics.
Gov. Jan Brewer’s spokesman, Andrew Wilder, said Friday that conditions at the holding center are so dire that federal officials have asked the state to immediately ship the medical supplies to the center in Nogales.
A Homeland Security Department official told The Associated Press that children are sleeping on plastic cots but about 2,000 mattresses have been ordered, and portable toilets and showers have been brought to the holding center — a warehouse that has not been used for detention in years.
The official, who who spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no authorization to discuss the matter publicly, said the Nogales holding center opened for children because the Department of Health and Human Services had nowhere to turn.
“They became so overwhelmed and haven’t kept up with planning,” the official said.
U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has said the immigrants were mostly families from Central America fleeing extreme poverty and violence.
Wilder said a total of 432 unaccompanied minors detained in Texas arrived in Nogales on Friday, with 367 more expected both Saturday and Sunday.
The Homeland Security official said as many as 1,400 chil- dren are expected to be eventually brought to the warehouse, which has a capacity of about 1,500.
Federal authorities plan to use the Nogales facility as a way station, where the children will be vaccinated and checked medically. They will then be sent to facilities being set up in Ventura, California, San Antonio, Texas, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
The Homeland Security official said that the children are being moved out of the Nogales site as soon as Health and Human Services finds places for them. But the official said: “As quickly as we move them out, we get more. We believe this is just a start.”
The children being held in Nogales are 17 or younger. The official estimated three of every four were at least 16.
Wilder said reports from consulates that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was stopping the program to fly migrant families to Arizona and then bus them to Phoenix were incorrect. Instead, the program that has shipped unknown thousands of adult migrants and their children to Arizona since last month shows no sign of stopping, he said.
“The adults, the adults with children, families — that continues unfettered and we have no idea where they are going,” Wilder said.
FILE - In this May 29, 2014 file photo, Maria Eva Casco, left, and her son Christian Casco of El Salvador, sit at at the Greyhound bus terminal, Thursday, May 29, 2014 in Phoenix. Central American families arrested in Texas will continue to be flown to Arizona, and hundreds of unaccompanied minors a day are being shipped to a federal detention center in the southern part of the state, Gov. Jan Brewer’s spokesman says.