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REUTERS/Loren Elliott
The “soft-sided” CBP facility in Donna, Texas.
SMELLS LIKE MONEY

Customs and Border Protection is buying 2.2 million baby diapers for its new migrant tent city

By Justin Rohrlich

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is looking to purchase 20,000 baby bottles, 3,000 boxes of baby wipes, and 2,224,000 baby diapers for a newly-erected tent city holding families and unaccompanied children seeking asylum in America.

That’s according to a new solicitation issued May 30 by the agency, which says it also needs 144,000 pairs of shower shoes, of which 36,000 will be size extra-small.

The complex, located in Donna, Texas, is one of two new “temporary (8 months) soft-sided facilities” housing up to 500 people each. The $37 million initiative is meant to give CBP “additional capacity to accommodate family units and UAC [unaccompanied children] arriving in surging numbers to the southwest border.” The existence of the site, along with a second located in El Paso, Texas, was first revealed by Quartz.

“These facilities will provide temporary housing, meals, showers, clean clothing, and medical area for the family units and UACs,” CBP said in a related contracting document, which described allowing “35 square feet per detainee of open space plus 12 square feet to account for sleeping mat space.”

Immigration on the southern US border has been marked in recent years by an uptick in families with children seeking asylum, as they flee gang violence and other harsh conditions in Central America. Trump administration policies also created more “unaccompanied children” by detaining their parents–including many who have not committed any crime–and introducing new policies for US guardians that reduce the number of homes available to kids.

Brian Hastings, CBP’s chief of law enforcement operations, said recently that CBP is at a “breaking point” as it faces an “unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis.” In February the agency apprehended 76,000 people at the southern border, including 36,000 traveling with family members—the highest number in 12 years.

Department of Homeland Security officials say CBP’s existing facilities weren’t built to hold this many people, and some of its detention centers in the area are reportedly operating at triple and quadruple capacity. The agency was recently slammed for housing thousands of migrants, including children, in a holding pen underneath a bridge, and a May 30 report from the DHS inspector general found dangerous overcrowding at a Border Patrol processing center in El Paso:

CBP will begin taking delivery of the diapers and other baby supplies on June 15.