A facility designed to house up to 800 people at any given time seeking immigration status in the U.S. could see construction later this spring.
The facility, which has long been proposed by immigration officials, would measure around 250,000 square feet, roughly the size of the largest Walmart Supercenters, and would go up on the west side of El Paso.
The project would belong to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is designed to replace a series of small cells that are currently used for holding purposes.
Those processed at the centers will primarily be migrant families who have crossed the Mexico/U.S. border, but were subsequently apprehended by Customs and Border Protection agents.
Plans for the center are particularly animated by a changed migrant profile which was once almost exclusively single males, but in recent years has increasingly been made up of families.
According to Customs and Border Protection records, some 8,600 migrant family members were apprehended and processed by agents in 2017.
But that number has dramatically increased to more than 25,700 just between October of 2018 and January of this year.
The new structure is expected to cost $190 million to build, money that has been included in new federal border funding legislation just passed by Congress.
That legislation also includes $564 million for ports of entry inspection equipment and $100 million for border surveillance technology.
A construction start date for the project has not yet been announced.
By Garry Boulard
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