Hours after U.S. Border Patrol San Diego sector chief Paul Beeson confirmed that planes carrying illegal immigrants to San Diego from Texas would begin Monday, June 23, the chief learned the flights had been canceled. The transfer has been deemed necessary for the processing of the immigrants because Texas is flooded with illegal crossers from Central America.
On Saturday, June 21, Beeson confirmed that planes would fly 140 immigrants to San Diego every three days, starting June 23, to help relieve the extraordinary pressure on Border Patrol agents, processing stations, and detention areas in the Rio Grande Valley.
In the past few months, more than 1000 people a day — many under the age of 18 or traveling as families — are entering the U.S. illegally. Other border areas, including Arizona and New Mexico, are already taking in the overflow.
The Border Patrol had notified the National Border Patrol Council in San Diego — a union that represents 17,000 agents across the U.S., including about 2000 in San Diego — that the patrol agents should be prepared for additional work.
But, on June 22, Beeson let reporters know the flights had been canceled — for now. He said he was notified by his staff and did not have an official reason for the cancellation.
Gabe Pacheco, a local union representative, said the union was worried about the illegal immigrants being scattered across the Southwestern border because it affects the safety of the agents.
"We are already spread thin," Pacheco said. "There have been outbreaks of communicable diseases with the flood of illegals in Texas."
Now, Pacheco says, he believes that political pressure from the public has prompted the cancellation — or postponement — of the plan to shuffle Texas's problems to other parts of the country.
"We stand ready to help our brothers in Texas. We will be professional and expeditious," Pacheco said. "And we don't think for a minute this is over."
Patrol agents in San Diego have already started gathering clothing donations for the children that are expect to come — many bringing in clothes and shoes their own children don't need, Pacheco said.
Disturbing pictures of hundreds of kids sleeping on the floors of Texas Border Patrol processing areas were leaked earlier this month. Border Patrol facilities are not designed or equipped to serve as long-term detention centers, and the agency guidelines say that people should be held for no more than three days before Immigration and Customs Enforcement takes them to detention centers.