Hundreds of detainees from immigration agency facilities in Texas and elsewhere will be flown to San Diego for processing, it was reported Friday, as authorities struggle to handle an influx of migrants entering the country.
Three flights a week carrying about 130 people a flight would arrive in the San Diego area from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, Customs and Border Protection Interim Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison said Friday, according to NBC San Diego
Those people would come from facilities overwhelmed by a high number of immigrants, including those who are claiming asylum, but officials in Southern California are not expecting any unaccompanied minors, the station reported.
The federal border protection agency is calling the surge in migrants fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — a region sometimes called the Northern Triangle — a humanitarian and border security crisis.
"We're in the middle of a humanitarian crisis and the numbers in Texas are staggering so the BP is helping out in those sectors to more efficiently process these folks," an unidentified CBP official said, referring to the Border Patrol, according to Reuters.
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The announcement comes as two Department of Homeland Security officials said the DHS is laying the groundwork for a plan to transport recent border crossers by plane to cities around the country and release them after processing.
Florida officials expressed anger on Thursday after learning the Trump administration was planning to release hundreds of migrants each month in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Beyond South Florida, DHS is considering other areas around the country where immigrants can be released, the two officials told NBC News.
It was not immediately clear if the flights from Texas to San Diego were part of that DHS plan.
Also on Friday, Customs and Border Protection warned people against trying to cross the Rio Grande River into the United States, calling crossings with small children an “alarming trend” that has resulted in deaths.
The agency said in a statement that since Oct. 1, 2018, there have been 10 water-related deaths in the Del Rio Sector, which covers parts of the Texas border.
On May 1, three people drowned, including a 10-month-old boy and a 7-year-old boy, when a raft carrying nine people capsized, sending everyone aboard into the water, CBP said.
Border Patrol agents rescued a man who was trying to cross the river with a 3-month-old boy strapped to his chest Thursday, the CBP said. The baby suffered water in his lungs and nearly drowned, the agency said.
"It's disturbing what is taking place on our borders and witnessed by our Border Patrol agents every day,” Del Rio Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Randy Davis said in the CBP statement.
"This trend is not without tragic consequences," he said. "Border Patrol agents are rescuing people, but have also had the grim task of recovering deceased bodies including children as young as 10-months-old from the Rio Grande River."