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Tornillo Migrant Shelter To Expand, Remain Open Through December

The temporary shelter holding undocumented minors in Tornillo is on course to expand capacity and remain open through the end of 2018. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

By Sally Beauvais

A temporary shelter housing migrant children in the West Texas border town of Tornillo will remain open at least until December 31st. This is the third time the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has opted to renew the contract for the so-called "tent city" since it opened in June.

The department also announced plans to increase the shelter’s capacity to 3,800 hundred beds -- up from 400 earlier this summer. According to spokesperson Kenneth Wolfe, the beds will be brought on incrementally as needed.

The Tornillo facility was set up at the port of entry in early June to house undocumented minors who crossed into the United States alone, or were separated from family members under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

Amid public outcry, the President signed an executive order halting the separation of parents and children at the border on June 20th.

The Department of Health and Human Services has stressed that continued demand for the Tornillo shelter to remain open is based on the volume of migrant children who are crossing the border unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian -- not those who've been separated from their families by immigration authorities.

Sally Beauvais is a reporter at Marfa Public Radio.