U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed Monday that men, women and children, undocumented or illegal immigrants coming to the United States in ever-increasing numbers from countries such as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, will soon be housed at the center located in Karnes City.
The facility was initially designed to house only adult males whose immigration status was undetermined. The $32 million center opened its doors in 2012, but is currently empty as the male detainees have all been transferred to other facilities in anticipation of the arrival of the detainee families.
Editor Joe Baker reported that local reaction to the news is mixed as Karnes County suddenly becomes a focal point in an ongoing controversial national issue.
One resident said, “It’s cheaper to just deport them back to their country. People feel sorry for the kids that come, but what kind of parents send such small children away like that?”
“My heart goes out to the children involved,” another said. “The parents made the decision that they needed to leave their country, for whatever reason that is. I wish everyone in this world had the opportunity that Americans have. I am not sure of the answer but as a Christian I think we need to help the children.”
Others expressed concern about possible health risks to the community as a result of housing the detainees at the detention center.
Also, the Karnes City ISD superintendent said that the district is not prepared to accept hundreds of children into the school system, most of whom do not speak English and many who likely never have had any education at all.
This crisis is disturbing on so many levels, and many Texans (and other Americans) believe it could have been averted with a more coherent federal immigration policy/enforcement.
Whether Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure the border in the Rio Grande Valley will be a success or is simply a political calculation will be determined in the coming months.
Almost everyone would agree, however, that much more must be done to prevent thousands of Central Americans (aided by the cartels) from streaming across the border, especially when our country cannot afford to take care of the underprivileged children it already has.