Tours Of 2 Controversial Border Patrol Facilities Show Fewer Migrants At El Paso's Border Patrol Station 1 and at the Clint Border Patrol station 20 miles southeast of El Paso, the number of migrants held has dropped sharply in recent weeks.
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Tours Of Texas Migrant Detention Centers Reveal Decrease In Population

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Tours Of Texas Migrant Detention Centers Reveal Decrease In Population

Tours Of Texas Migrant Detention Centers Reveal Decrease In Population

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

All week, our co-host Noel King has been reporting from the U.S.-Mexico border. She has brought us the voices of many people caught up in the humanitarian crisis at the border. Among them, patrol agents who've been under heavy criticism for how they have handled the situation.

Carlos Favela is executive vice president of the El Paso Border Patrol Union.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARLOS FAVELA: The biggest misconception is that Border Patrol agents are evil and they're mean-spirited. At various stations I've seen where they have collection boxes where they just come in and drop off, you know, small clothing that is for the kids or toys. So the kids can play with even plush toys. You know, I've seen them do this.

MARTIN: Favela was responding to reports that emerged last month of these chaotic, filthy scenes, particularly in Clint, Texas, where kids as young as 7 and 8 were reportedly going without basic necessities like blankets, beds or soap. Getting into these detention centers has been difficult for journalists. But freelance reporter Bob Moore toured that Clint facility in June, and he was invited back this week with Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

Bob Moore spoke with Noel about it.

NOEL KING, BYLINE: Hi, Bob

BOB MOORE: Hi. Good to see you again.

KING: So we're seeing reports that ICE raids are going to start as soon as this weekend. I know that you asked Kevin McAleenan about this. What did he say?

MOORE: He wouldn't answer the question directly, citing operational security reasons. But he did say, basically, that ICE needs to be able to do its job and to protect the integrity of the immigration system.

KING: OK. You were taken on a tour of the facility in Clint, Texas. You also toured that facility a few weeks ago. What's changed?

MOORE: So just to give people a little lay of the land, too - Clint is a small farming village about 20 miles southeast of El Paso. Two weeks ago when I was there, they were holding 117 children. That was down from a peak of about 700. And it's important to understand that the listed capacity for the holding cells in that facility's 108. So in the weeks before I was there, they had been storing people in essentially converted warehouses - just wherever they could put them. But now, from 117 two weeks ago, there were 16 children there today...

KING: Only 16?

MOORE: Only 16, all were held inside, 15 boys and one girl. The only girl there, interestingly enough, was a little child who looked to be between the age of 2 and 3. The rest were boys - mostly teenage boys.

KING: Who was looking after the little girl?

MOORE: They have what are now called contract monitors there. These are, essentially, professional child care workers who are brought in to provide those services. They had just started there two weeks ago when we were out there. Before that you had had, essentially, federal agents taking care of children - including being responsible for their bathing, teeth-brushing and things like that.

KING: Do you get the sense that Customs and Border Protection is starting to change its facilities so that it's taking care of children and families as opposed to single men, for example, the way it was in the past?

MOORE: We're not seeing that. So it's important to note that the facilities we were at today are still facilities that were designed to hold single men. We don't have - at least on the CBP end of things - facilities that have been built specifically for the short-term holding of families. We're still putting families and children into what are essentially jail cells. We still have not constructed the infrastructure necessary to care for children and families.

KING: This week, the Department of Homeland Security reported that apprehension numbers at the border dropped significantly in the month of June - about 28%. Is the crisis at the border moving elsewhere?

MOORE: I think it's on pause, is the best way to put it right now, for a variety of factors. You now have the Mexican government that has taken a far more aggressive stance, both at its southern border and its northern border, in trying to keep people from crossing. You have the ramping up of migrant protection protocols where we now have more than 19,000 people waiting for asylum in the United States who've been made to go back to Mexico.

You also have warmer weather, which traditionally drives down migration rates. But I think the other piece of this that's happening is the smuggling organizations have sort of hit the pause button for right now, too, because they want to assess how all of this is playing out and how they can respond.

KING: You and I sat together in immigration court this week. We saw a lot of migrants who had been held in Mexico under the Remain in Mexico policy, most of them did not have lawyers. What are you going to be watching for over the next couple of months in terms of immigration court?

MOORE: I think it's important to understand that what we witnessed is going to look mild in comparison to what's about to come. And what we're going to see in El Paso, apparently, over the next few weeks is that the cases will be moved out of that courthouse we were in and moved to tents - probably at CBP facilities.

So they'll have a judge appearing by video screen with possibly hundreds of migrants in front of him for a rights advisal that probably will be conducted with a videotape rather than with a judge actually interacting with people. So as bizarre as what we saw was, it's going to get more bizarre moving forward.

KING: Journalist Bob Moore. Thank you so much.

MOORE: Thanks for having me.

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