Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, came to this South Texas outpost on Monday to inaugurate a 50-acre detention center that will hold as many as 2,400 migrants caught crossing the Southwest border illegally, becoming the largest immigration detention facility in the country.

Though President Obama has offered work permits and protection from deportation to millions of unauthorized immigrants, he also ordered new policies to reinforce border security, hoping to prevent a new surge of illegal crossings. Mr. Johnson presided over the opening of the center in Dilley, 85 miles northeast of Laredo, to draw more attention to the border security pieces of the president’s executive actions, in response to the furor those actions caused.

The center is specially designed to house migrant women and their children, from babies to teenagers, as their deportation cases move through the courts.

Standing on a barren dirt roadway lined with cabins in a fenced-in compound, Mr. Johnson delivered a blunt message to migrants without legal papers considering a trip to the United States. “It will now be more likely that you will be detained and sent back,” he said.

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