Detention Officer Breaks Silence To Defend Efforts
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:46:59 GMT —
A detention officer at the Port Isabel Detention Center is speaking exclusively to Action 4 News because he wants the public to know what's going on behind closed doors where he works.
Like most immigration officials in the Valley, he is not allowed to speak to the media so we are disguising his voice to protect his identity.
"My experience as a detention officer has been six years now and it's great, I love the job."
"Ismael" is what we will call him.
He says with all the attention on undocumented women and children flooding the border region, every other person entering the U.S. illegally should not be overlooked.
Men are also coming over in large numbers.
We were not allowed to film the detention center, in fact, we were pushed about half a mile away, but that didn't stop us from getting you a better view of the facility that you deserve.
Cameron County officials granted us exclusive access onto on old airport runway.
It's located directly behind the Port Isabel Detention Center so we can give you an up close look at the facility.
We learned this facility hadn't held females in years, but now that's changed.
"Just recently with the influx of people coming in a lot more females have been accepted there," said "Ismael.
The females detained here are without children.
Different than the moms holding babies giving themselves up to agents at the border.
They are moving here Ismael says because every immigration holding facility is spilling over.
"The way we're dealing with overcrowding, as soon as they come, whether they are from Guatemala or Honduras, they put them in a separate dorm, they are not given a uniform but they are showered and fed all three meals. Morning it's a hot meal and a cold plate, afternoon they get a sack lunch and in the evening it's also a hot meal with a cold plate."
We spotted several female detainees while our cameras were rolling.
They won't stay long though.
Ismael claims there's a revolving door of sorts with detainees volunteering to be deported because they don't want to be incarcerated.
"Within a matter of hours to days they are deported back to their countries."
He says if they can bond out they can leave here and take a bus or even a commercial flight if they can afford it on a one way trip anywhere in the U.S.
But just as many women and men are being deported back to their home countries.
"At any given day during an 8 hour shift it could be 160 to 200 detainees. Deported a day. As little as 2 busloads which is about 100 to the most would be 300 in one whole day."
Action 4 News requested removal costs from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and they responded saying they don't track the average cost of removal per immigrant, but rather the average life cycle cost per person.
These are the shocking tallies they turned over to us.
In fiscal year 2013, the average life cycle per immigrant was $8,705.
By Ismael's account of the average number of deportees from this facility alone, that's a whopping 1 million 700 thousand and change a day if they get sent back home.
And the majority of them are heading to Central America.
"That's 90 percent of our population, Hondurans, Guatemalans, and from El Salvador."
The same countries plagued by gang violence, with residents living in fear and fleeing from the notorious Mara Salvatrucha or Sur Dies y ocho gangs.
"We do have at this time five gang affiliated detainees"
But despite that and the addition of female detainees, Ismael maintains they have a handle on things here.