U.S. Sees Immigration Surge At Texas-Mexico Border

Federal immigration officials will set up a second temporary holding facility on the Texas border to deal with a surge in arrivals of families and unaccompanied children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.

The temporary shelters at the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge in the Rio Grande Valley city of Donna will hold up to 500 people, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday.

The federal government has struggled to manage a surge in immigrants from the troubled nations of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala that began in 2014.

Volunteers who work with migrants along the border say the upsurge in Central American arrivals began long before Donald Trump's Nov. 8 victory.

Many migrant families are released after initial processing and charities help them reach relatives living in the U.S.

NBC 5 visited a respite center in downtown McAllen, where in the two and a half years it's been operating, volunteers have helped more than 60,000 men, women and children who've crossed the border.

Sister Norma Pimentel, of Catholic Charities Rio Grande Valley, runs the center.

"They actually turn themselves into Border Patrol when they cross the river. Border patrol will process them and they give them permission to travel," Pimentel said. "They give them temporary permission to be in the United States so that they can continue their procedures elsewhere and they can go before a judge and determine whether they have a right to be here in the country or not."

"In the meantime, a family member bought their bus ticket and they're able to travel to there. So before they get on the bus, we invite them here and ask them to take a shower, get cleaned, see a doctor, eat some soup, get clean clothing, call their family and we put them back on the bus," she said.

Pimental said they help between 250 to 350 migrants every day.

Neli Tejada is five-months pregnant and just arrived at the center with her 4-year-old son.

It took them 37 days to travel from Honduras, a country many escape out of fear of gang violence and poverty conditions.

"They fear for their lives and the lives of their children," Pimentel said.

"We will continue to be here as long as families continue to come and as long as volunteers and donations keep coming, so that we can serve the families," she adds.

According to Catholic Charities of Dallas, Homeland Security and the U.S. Border Patrol have reached out to regarding the recent surge of people fleeing Central America through Mexico and into Brownsville.

In a statement from CCD, the federal agencies have asked CCD to assist with temporary humanitarian respite care should the need arise.

"Catholic Charities' core mission has been - and always will be - to help those in need; to feed the hungry, provide clothing to those without, to assist the elderly, children and families and welcome the strangers in the community, which is why CCD is prepared to partner with The St. Vincent de Paul Society and other agencies to help.

"The CCD president and CEO said Catholic Charities of Dallas stands ready to assist in this humanitarian effort."

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