Storms batter Border Patrol detention sites in RGV

Outdoor center on floodplain

Strong wind gusts and rain produced by Wednesday’s storms led Border Patrol agents to shuffle migrants indoors from two temporary facilities, including a site in a flood-prone area, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Border Patrol agents are primarily using two structures to process migrants in the Rio Grande Valley. One is a large tent site in Donna and the other is a temporary outdoor processing site, known as TOPS, under the Anzalduas International Bridge.

The outdoor site sits in a 100-year floodplain at high risk for flooding, according to FEMA flood maps.

“On May 12, 2021, migrants at the Temporary Outdoor Processing Site under the Anzalduas Bridge in Granjeno, Texas, were transferred to a Border Patrol facility within the Rio Grande Valley as a result of inclement weather. The location is back operational and has resumed the intaking of noncitizens,” a statement from Customs and Border Protection read.

Migrants in Donna were also moved temporarily.

“All migrants at the Donna Processing Facility were transferred to one of our Border Patrol facilities within the Rio Grande Valley as a result of last night’s [Wednesday’s] inclement weather. However, as of this morning, the DPF is back operational and resumed intake of noncitizens,” a separate statement from CBP read.

Migrants were detained at a permanent processing center in McAllen until it was closed for a year-long renovation project in November. As a result, the Donna tents and the TOPS facility were constructed.

The site under the bridge is in a flood-prone area managed by the International Boundary and Water Commission. CBP received verbal permission for their structure, according to Lori Kuczmanski, an IBWC public affairs officer who commented to The Monitor in mid-April. But, if a storm would move in, Kuczmanski said IBWC would notify the agency so it can move the structure “at a moment’s notice.”

A report authored by a government’s inspector on April 9 suggested the agency has been aware of the flooding threat.

“RGV Sector is exploring additional avenues to enhance conditions in anticipation of seasonal changes in weather and migrant flows,” the inspector noted in his report.