Federal immigration officials on Thursday sought to show the softer side of immigrant detention, complete with cartoon wall murals, stuffed animals, playgrounds, snacks and a hair salon at a South Texas facility that will house women and their children who crossed the border illegally.
With a surge in illegal immigration in recent months, especially children traveling alone and parents bringing in children from Central America, authorities moved to convert an all-male detention facility about 50 miles Southeast of San Antonio into one that could temporarily house families.
The Karnes County Residential Center is the third such family center in the nation, with the others in the New Mexico and Pennsylvania, and more could be on the way.
The facility will start receiving immigrants on Friday and can house up to 532 people at a cost of about $140 a day per person.
The Karnes County local government contracts the day-to-day operation with the private prison company The GEO Group.
Border Patrol agents have detained more than 57,000 immigrant children crossing the border alone since October.