Activity inside and outside the migrant transition rooms inside the Chihuahua Neighborhood Facility has slowed to a hum, and on Thursday at least it was no longer the bustling hive of activity it was at the height of the immigrant influx in May and June.
The Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition, a group formed in response to a move by the U.S. Border Patrol to drop off migrant families inside the Del Rio city limits after they had been detained and processed, has been operating the transition center out of the Chihuahua Facility, 1401 Las Vacas St., since May 7.
Marti Faulkner, who serves as the treasurer of the humanitarian coalition, recently told members of the Del Rio City Council a total of 7,254 asylum-seeking migrants have been processed at the Chihuahua Center as of Aug. 31, with 50 percent of that number being minor children.
Faulkner told the council the coalition is seeing a decrease in the number of migrants being brought to the center, a decrease she attributed – at least in part – to the introduction of a U.S. government program implemented in response to the influx of immigrants seeking asylum.
“The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) are a U.S. government action whereby certain foreign individuals entering or seeking admission to the U.S. from Mexico – illegally or without proper documentation – may be returned to Mexico and wait outside of the U.S. for the duration of their immigration proceedings, where Mexico will provide them with all appropriate humanitarian protections for the duration of their stay,” according to a description of the program on the web site of the Department of Homeland Security.
She told city council members Laredo initiated the migrant removal program about six week ago.
“We’ve seen a decrease to about half the numbers we were seeing previously,” Faulkner told the council.
She added Border Patrol officials have told her the lower numbers may also be related to the recent month-long heat spell that settled over the region.
“They’re expecting an influx again at the end of the month,” she said.
On Thursday, a representative of Samaritan’s Purse, the organization providing support services for the coalition and migrants outside the Chihuahua Center, said a group of 12 asylum-seeking migrants had arrived that morning and were in the process of selecting clothes, taking showers and getting something to eat before getting a seat on a van out of Del Rio.
There were still children racing in and out of the overnight shelter on donated toys, and a family of migrants sat around a table outside the center, under a canopy shielding them from the sun.