YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — A new tent-like temporary migrant processing facility in Yuma, Arizona, began operations earlier this week to house people seeking asylum in the U.S., according to a Border Patrol official.
The 90,000-square-foot (8,361-square-meter) structure, which was built in 20 days in a parking lot behind the Yuma Sector Headquarters building, can accommodate up to 500 people, the Yuma Sun reported.
Yuma Sector Border Patrol spokesperson Vincent Dulesky said that with social distancing the facility can hold 250 people, providing additional space to hold families and unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Security and cleaning of the facility are being handled under contract so no agents will be staffing it, leaving them to continue patrolling the border, Dulesky said, adding that up to 450 people are apprehended a day.
The new center is equipped with 24 computer stations, which allow agents to gather information and screen migrants more quickly. It is also weatherproof and climate controlled with four living areas, a laundry facility, showers and medical areas.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection awarded a contract to Deployed Resources LLC in March to construct the facility. It cost $25 million for the first four months of operation. The facility can remain operational for an additional four months for $4.6 million a month under the contract.
The federal agency reported that since April last year there has been an increase in the number of people entering the country illegally, in part because of worsening economic conditions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters affecting the area.
As a result, the Yuma Sector has experienced an increase in activity along its 126-mile (200-kilometer) section of the border and had been unable to hold everyone that was apprehended.