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Nogales mayor tours makeshift ‘transition center’ for migrant kids

LISTEN: Nogales Mayor - Arturo Garino

PHOENIX — Border Patrol agents in Nogales, Ariz., have set up a makeshift transition center for the hundreds of unattended children that have crossed the border.

Hundreds of unaccompanied migrants children have been transported from Texas to a makeshift center in Nogales.

Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino toured the center on Monday, and he feels comfortable with the assistance the federal agency is giving.

“This process of having close to 1,000 [children] in there…for anybody else it would probably be a nightmare, but for Border Patrol, they’re doing a good job,” Garino told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Mac & Gaydos Monday.

Garino was adamant about the center being one of transition, not of detention.

“What they have is not going to be considered a detention center; it’s a transition center,” he explained. “They’re processing anywhere from 200 to 300 of the kids and then from there, they’re being taken to other locations where they’re going to finalize, probably, making that connection with the parents or continuing the immigration process.”

Garino estimated there were between 900 and 1,100 kids there right now, the majority of them teenagers. The center has been divided up by age and sex. There are also two cafeterias that have been cordoned off and a caterer is providing food. Each section contains portable toilets that are connected to the Border Patrol building’s ventilation system.

“They transported six semi-truck-types…for bathing and one semi-truck that (is) a laundromat that’s going to be right attached to the building,” he said.

A medical staff has been brought in to vaccinate all the children and a row of phones has been set up. Garino said the phone numbers of three Central American consulates have been written near the phones, however, he said that many of the children have the contact information of their relatives here in the states.

The mayor admitted he did not know what the next step was going to be for these displaced children.

“From what I understand, everyone is going to be processed through (the center) — none of them are going to stay there,” he said. “I think at the second phase of it or the second location where they get transported to, that’s where they’re going to go through the immigration process. I don’t know if it’s deportation or what, but none of that is going to happen here in Nogales. Nogales is just a transition area.”

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