South Texas facility to resume detention of migrant families

by | Sep 23, 2019 | Immigration/Border, Policy

One month after the Trump administration announced a new rule allowing immigration officials to indefinitely hold migrant families, a Texas facility capable of holding hundreds of migrant families is set to resume operation. 

The Karnes County Detention Center– roughly 50 miles southeast of San Antonio– will begin functioning as a “family residential center,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed with The Signal.

“The facility has been recently used to house adult women,” ICE said. “Additional intake at the facility has been temporarily suspended. During the transition back to housing families, those detainees at KCDC may be transferred to other detention facilities.”

The Karnes facility’s transition to house migrant families comes amid a new regulation by the Trump administration that would allow migrant families to be detained indefinitely, instead of the old 20-day limit Trump previously derided as allowing for “catch and release.” Homeland Security officials claim the new rules will decrease the number of migrants entering the country illegally. 

The Karnes City facility began to phase out family detentions to house adult women earlier this year. The facility is capable of holding up to 830 individuals and previously held around 700 adult women, according to the Washington Post.

In 2018, the Karnes detention center was the sight of a hunger strike by fathers who were separated from their children. A few weeks later, immigration officials said a “disturbance” led to the arrests of more than a dozen migrant fathers who had recently reunited with their families. The arrests were described as a “horrifying scene” by one advocacy group who said the arrest and temporary relocation of the migrants were prompted by the detainees speaking out against poor conditions in the facility, according to the Texas Tribune.

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at

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