Dilley, TEXAS – A state prison about an hour’s drive southwest of San Antonio will be used as a central holding facility for immigrants who are charged with a state crime after unlawfully crossing the Texas-Mexico border, a spokesperson from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice told KSAT Thursday.
This week, TDCJ officials started moving hundreds of inmates from the Dolph Briscoe Unit in Dilley to other prisons across the state to make room for arrested immigrants. The new development is a part of Abbott’s plan to ramp up enforcement at the southern border, which includes funding the construction of a “border wall.”
The Briscoe Unit will house these non-TDCJ detainees who are charged with state offenses, Jeremy Desel, communications director for TDCJ, wrote in a statement to KSAT.
In March, Abbott announced ‘Operation Lone Star’ and deployed Texas National Guard troops to the border. Abbott also issued a disaster declaration over a spike in unlawful crossings at the Texas-Mexico border. The order provides wider discretion for state and local officers to enforce federal and state criminal laws for criminal trespassing, illegal entry, smuggling, and human trafficking.
It is not clear how the cases against the people who are accused of the crimes and detained will be adjudicated. Desel said he did not have details and KSAT has reached out to Abbott’s office.
The Briscoe Unit has the capacity to house nearly 1,400 inmates, according to the prison’s website. Desel said the unit currently has 1,000 of those beds designated for detainees under Operation Lone Star.
“While in the custody of TDCJ, the agency, in conjunction with the Windham School District and the University of Texas Medical Branch, will provide appropriate services to the population,” said Desel.
This week, Governor Greg Abbott unveiled his plan for Texas to build its own border wall.
Abbott said the state has allocated $250 million as a down payment toward building the wall and said he plans to pay for the rest with crowdsourcing donations.
Former President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he will join Abbott on Wednesday, June 30 for a visit to the Texas-Mexico border.