Border officials were ‘cleaning up’ Texas’ Rio Grande Valley ahead of Mayorkas’ visit, agents say
Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF
- Officials across Texas’ Rio Grande Valley were “cleaning up” migrant detention facilities and processing centers in the region ahead of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visit on Thursday morning, two current agents told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- “I started looking at messages from maintenance this morning, asking, why are they cleaning stuff up?’ or ‘why are they moving everybody?’” one CBP agent told the DCNF.
- Agents never question the sudden increase in resources available to them, they’re just happy to be able to effectively do their job, another agent told the DCNF.
Customs and Border Protection agents said officials across Texas’ Rio Grande Valley were “cleaning up” migrant detention facilities and processing centers in the region ahead of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ visit Thursday morning, two active agents told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“I heard the upper [Rio Grande Valley] was clearing all of the bodies from the detention facilities for their dog and pony show,” and that “TOPS cleaned out for the little event,” messages exchanged between Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials show, an active CBP agent told the Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday. Both CBP officials spoke under the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.
Temporary Outdoor Processing Sites (TOPS) are field processing areas where officials take basic biographical data from illegal migrants before transporting them to another facility, according to the agent.
“I started looking at messages from maintenance this morning, asking, why are they cleaning stuff up?’ or ‘why are they moving everybody?’” the CBP agent told the DCNF over the phone. “The problem is, any time there is a big visit from Washington, even under other administrations, they always clean it up—and by ‘clean it up,’ I mean they either move people, or they hurry them out the door. 100% they were doing that this morning, way too many agents talking about it.”
The agent said cross-border traffic from Mexico sometimes slows down for about a week when federal officials visit the region. Mayorkas visited McAllen, Texas, and the surrounding region to hear from local law enforcement and community leaders, according to DHS.
“That always made me upset, because why would you make something nicer when they visit; they should see it in the actual conditions,” the agent said. “So, now this person can go up there and say, ‘oh, it wasn’t that bad,’ but, it is that bad.”
In McAllen today, @SecMayorkas:
✅Received operational updates from @CBP at border facilities
✅Saw firsthand partnerships at work with the @CityofMcAllen , @CCharitiesRGV & @nspimentel
✅Met with law enforcement, local officials, and community leaders pic.twitter.com/ZezCSQQspj
— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) August 12, 2021
“I’m having sources report to me right now that they have been directed to clear out the illegal aliens under that bridge and start transporting illegal aliens out of those overcrowded facilities … in anticipation of Secretary Mayorkas’ visit down there,” former acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said Thursday morning.
Clean-ups have occurred ahead of border visits regardless of which administration or what official is visiting the Rio Grande Valley, a second, senior agent told the DCNF Thursday over the phone. “They pretty much cater to the crowd.”
“We don’t need to be told to do something, usually when it happens it comes as a breath of fresh air like ‘oh my God we have busses, oh my God we have transportation, thank God!’” the agent said. “So they just clean everything up and will happily help because we want to work in a better and cleaner environment.”
Border officials seek to transport the migrants out of the area as quickly as possible, but are constantly understaffed and welcome additional resources regardless of the reason, the senior agent told the DCNF. More busses were recently made available to field agents in the past week, according to the agent.
“I was not directed to clean up anything or any area or any facility, nor have I heard of any other of my coworkers being directed or instructed to clean anything up,” the agent told the DCNF. “The service doesn’t really work like that, they never have in my experience — they choose a more subtle approach. One that makes the agents feel like it is the agents themselves who are receiving the help.”
Sometimes, the relief comes from programs or facilities that were previously unavailable to house migrants and “all of a sudden they have room and beds and they are fully available,” the senior agent said.
The Biden administration ended contracts with private detention facilities that housed a lot of migrants in the region, causing officials to resort to releasing migrants into the community because they didn’t have anywhere to keep them, the agent added. Some of the migrants have been transported to other federally-run facilities in the U.S., while other adults and family units have been expelled under a Trump-era public health order implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“When the outdoor processing center is full to the gills and all of a sudden we get more buses that were previously not available, or we get more personnel from [a private contractor] to provide transportation for those detainees, we’ll be nothing but happy that we can move these people out of there,” the senior CBP agent told the DCNF. “Nobody is questioning why and nobody’s putting two and two together as to they’re cleaning it up for this guy until it’s too late.”
Higher-ups within CBP will most likely say they can’t always have enough transportation available or agents working in the field due to budget restrictions, though one of the agents who spoke to the DCNF suspects they are saving the money for when they know federal officials will be in the area.
Officials encountered more than 212,000 migrants at the southern border in July, Mayorkas announced during his visit to the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday.