KARNES CITY, Texas -- Even though the numbers are on the decline, undocumented immigration is still happening.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency opened what they are calling their first civil detention center. The facility is located about an hour south of San Antonio in Karnes City.
ICE is calling this detention center a 'soft facility' as opposed to the very military way of how they run their other centers.
"We just feel the obligation to treat them according to their history, and, as I said, by their risk of flight," explained ICE Executive Director Gary Mead.
The new Karnes County Civil Detention Center was built to meet the new ICE reform standards. That includes a facility that looks less like a prison and more like a school dormitory. This one comes with all the bells and whistles. Flat screen televisions with cable, 24-hour internet access, outdoor recreation that includes a soccer field, and much more.
Some might say it's too much for detainees who entered into the U.S. illegally. But a group of protesters outside the detention center say it's simply not enough.
"We're concerned that we're detaining folks at all if they are this low security. Not only is it a drain of our money, but it is also poses risks for the health of folks who have never been convicted of any crime," said Crystal Gomez, who serves as a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Gomez claims there have been a number of detainees whose health issues were ignored and others who died while in ICE custody and those deaths could have been prevented. The deaths launched lawsuits against the managing detention facility GEO. But the detention health director says they are meeting those concerns to prevent unnecessary deaths.
"We are fully staffed with x-ray, dental, and a lab to do any kind of health care," said GEO Health Director Connie Danley. "We have 24/7 access to the medical department at this facility."
The detention center has the capacity to house up to 608 male detainees who are considered low risk. Detainees are expected to start filling up the facility in the next two to three weeks.