Disagreement over living conditions of unaccompanied immigrant children

Following a tour of the converted warehouse in which nearly 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children are being held in Nogales, Arizona, Mayor Arturo Garino indicated his approval of the facility. His comments come on the heels of relatively widespread criticism from immigration reform advocates who believe that the unaccompanied minors are being treated unfairly and are entitled to better accommodations. Speaking to the Associated Press, Garino offered his thoughts on the space.

“The warehouse is very nice comparing to a lot of what I’ve heard, I’m very comfortable with it,” he said.

The majority of the criticisms regarding the housing for these children have been centered on the impermanence and overcrowding of the situation. The warehouse was a rushed solution as immigrant children pour into the Southwestern United States at rates higher than ever before. In 2009, unaccompanied children apprehended by border patrol agents while crossing into the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras numbered 3,304. This year, the same demographic numbers over 48,000 and is expected to keep growing.

It is projected for the warehouse to be a temporary processing center where immigrant children will be held for several days, vaccinated and inspected for health issues prior to being sent to more permanent centers across the Southwest. The longer term facilities are designed to hold the individuals for up to four months while they complete the immigration process or, far more likely, prepare to be sent back to their home countries.

While Garino made it clear that he felt the conditions were appropriate considering the nature of the emergency, he did also indicate his understanding that most other scenarios would warrant more reasonable accommodations.

“This process of having close to 1,000 [children] in there, for anyone else it would be a nightmare. But for border patrol, they’re doing a pretty good job,” Garino said in an interview with radio station KTAR.

The AP reported that, as long as the problem persists, immigration officials intend to continue transporting undocumented children to Arizona.