Thursday, November 27, 2014

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Karnes County Center to Begin Housing Immigrants Friday

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TWC News: Karnes County Center to Begin Housing Immigrants Friday
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Before the first immigrants arrive Friday at the Karnes County detention center, the federal government invited members of the media for a brief tour.

"The Karnes County Residential Center is the first facility constructed with ICE new civil detention reforms in mind," Enrique Lucero, director of the ICE San Antonio Field Office, said.

A 2009 mandate included the 2012 construction of the residential compound. Federal measures ensure detainees awaiting deportation or asylum hearings will be treated in a more humane environment.

Built two years ago, the detention center comes equipped with dorms, recreation areas, classrooms, and more importantly, medical facilities, including a separate room for potential tuberculosis cases.

"I'm pretty sure you will agree [the facility] is nothing like you have seen before,” Lucero said. "We pride ourselves in this location."

The property will house 532 people, only women and children only with a focus on mothers with kids. Housing the immigrations will cost $140 a day per person—or about $2.2 million a month.

"This month modified a contract with Karnes County to provide basically this facility to be able to accommodate adults with children," Lucero said.

Less than two weeks ago, the 29 acres were home to immigrant men. The men have been moved out, sent to other federal locations.

Now intake workers begin the process of admitting the women and children.

According to federal officials, each one of the detainees aged fourteen and over will be documented and their picture will be taken at the facility.

ICE officials issued a warning to immigrants who are considering the dangerous, illegal journey north to the U.S.

"After your immediate detention and due process, there is every likelihood that you will be returned to your country," Lucero said.

When the buses begin rolling in the new population, immigration officials say that process will continue until all beds are full.

The feds won't say how long detainees will stay or when they might be deported.

ICE says the women and children housed in Karnes County will have visitation rights for family members as well as immigration lawyers.

Asylum hearings that could take place for those who qualify will happen via teleconference.

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