SAN ANTONIO, Texas — KSAT 12 News on Thursday toured a new detention facility in Karnes County that will house hundreds of Central American women and children who are being held as illegal immigrants in the United States.
The Karnes County Residential Center that used to only house men is now designed with women and children in mind. The center offers a more family-friendly environment, including freedom of mobility inside the facility.
The center is the first immigration detention facility built according to civil detention standards and reforms after a federal lawsuit several years ago considered a similar facility to resemble a prison.
“I have had personal interest in making sure that this facility meets all the legal requirements that are under any settlement, any other family detention center, and I’m completely confident that we are meeting the standards and even exceeding those standards,” said Enrique Lucero, field operations of the center.
The facility is equipped with a teleconference room connected to an immigration judge who will hear immigration cases and asylum claims. The judge will have the power to deport illegal immigrants.
The first wave of woman and children who are being held in the Rio Grande Valley are expected to arrive at the facility Friday.
Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva said his deputies, local police and DPS troopers are ready for the possibility of protestors once up to 532 mothers and children begin arriving Friday and throughout the coming week.
In a small random sampling, only one local woman, who did not want to be identified, said the money spent on housing illegal immigrant women and children could have been spent on American families in need.
Yet Joanne Davenport, who lives in Karnes City, said,”I’m not afraid of it in any way, because I think it’s necessary to take care of women and children who are in such need.”