To ease the workload on border agents in south Texas, the U.S. Border Patrol plans to send about 280 migrants from Central America to California for processing, the Associated Press reported.
The migrants are to be transported on two flights Monday to San Diego and El Centro, California, said Paul Beeson, who heads the Border Patrol's San Diego section.
Beeson said the flights would be scheduled every three days and mostly carry families with young children.
During the Memorial Day weekend, a large number of families were flown from Texas to Tucson, Arizona, prompting criticism from Gov. Jan Brewer because they were left at a bus station.
Border Patrol arrests about 700 people daily, 20 percent of them unaccompanied children.
Immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have been flooding the Rio Grande Valley and the government is trying to find enough detention space. Since October, 174,000 arrests have been made, 39,000 of them adults with young children. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has only one facility suitable for families, a former, 85-bed nursing home in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
ICE is opening a facility Wednesday in Artesia, the Roswell Daily Record reported. About 800 migrants -- mostly families -- are expected.
The program, however, does not include unaccompanied children, who have overwhelmed the border area. NPR reported more than 50,000 unaccompanied children have been detained in the last eight months -- twice the number detained in all of last year.
Osiris Sandoval, who was traveling from Honduras with her 2-year-old when she was caught, said detainees are being kept with as many as 60 people in a room for days while agents attempt to process them. She said there's barely room to sit, let alone sleep.
Chris Cabrera, vice president of the local chapter of the National Border Patrol Council, said the goal is to keep detainees no longer than two days for processing, preferably 12 hours, but in some cases they're being held as long as 10 days.