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Federal government to greatly expand Tornillo shelter for unaccompanied minors

Tornillo port of entry facility (Credit: Department of Health and Human Services)

The immigration detention center at Tornillo used to hold undocumented immigrant minors will remain open through the end of the year, a government spokesperson said Tuesday.

The decision marks the third time the facility's operations have been extended since it opened in June, and is necessary due to the ongoing arrival of unaccompanied immigrant minors to this country, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in an email.

The extension is not in response to President Donald Trump’s former zero tolerance policy that separated children from their parents or guardians, which has been placed on hold after a national uproar.

The facility will also expand to 3,800 beds, spokesperson Kenneth Wolfe said. Earlier this summer, the facility reportedly had around 400 beds.

“These temporary beds will be brought online incrementally as needed. We will continue to assess the need for this temporary shelter at Tornillo Land Port of Entry in Tornillo, Texas, based on the projected need for beds and current capacity of the program,” he said.

TThe facility, which critics have called a “tent city,” was opened after the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy. It has mainly housed undocumented immigrant children who came to the country on their own, though there have been some separated minors detained there.

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