NewsWest 9 Gets Tour of Artesia Federal Holding Facility Housing Undocumented Immigrants

NewsWest 9 Gets Tour of Artesia Federal Holding Facility Housing Undocumented Immigrants

By Alicia Neaves

NewsWest 9

ARTESIA, N.M. - Thousands of undocumented immigrants are crossing our borders. Hundreds are housed close to the Permian Basin in a federal holding facility in Artesia, New Mexico. It's one of two facilities in the U.S. that exclusively houses adults and children. On Friday, NewsWest 9 got an inside look.

Jeh Johnson, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, addressed the media Friday morning. He stressed that all undocumented immigrants housed here are on expedited removal starting the week of July 14.

"Our message to those who are coming here illegally, to those who are contemplating coming here illegally into South Texas is, 'We will send you back,'" Johnson, said.

191 families are housed inside the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, just over 400 people to be exact, crossing the Texas border to escape the violence and turmoil in their home country. Most arrived with nothing.

Behind closed doors, you'll find bedrooms with bunk beds, a play room, dining facility and a library where these families spend their time. ICE officials say, upon arrival, the families get an immediate health inspection. They are given clothes and shoes and are offered a list of free legal services. Although they are given access to make a call to an attorney, the vast majority are not eligible for legal relief.

"A good number of them were surprised that they were being detained. I think they expected to be apprehended and simply let go into the interior," Johnson said.

Beginning the week of July 14, Secretary Johnson says they will begin the expedited removal of the immigrants via airplane back to their home country. The goal for this process is a couple of days.

"People in Central America should see and will see that if they make this journey and if they spend several thousand dollars to do that, we are going to send them back and they will have wasted their money," Johnson said.

A surge in immigration judges and an increased capacity for the detention facility in Artesia are in effect in the government's efforts to speed up the deportation process.