A group of Democrats who visited a Texas immigrant detention center called it “a child prison” and demanded that the Trump administration release nearly 2,700 young immigrants who have been languishing in the center for months, according to Common Dreams.
A group of Democrats including new Texas star Beto O’Rourke was joined by Judy Chu, Veronica Escobar, Senators Jeff Merkley, Tina Smith, and Mazie Hirono. O’Rourke said that none of the Democrats could really engage with the young people at the center because they appeared scared. Separated from their families already and now having to spend months in the detention center was something the children were having difficulty coping with, the Democrats said.
The center, which was opened last summer, was supposed to be a temporary shelter for children who had arrived in the United States without parents or those who had been separated from their parents by the Trump administration. Initially opened with the intention to keep the young immigrants in the shelter for 30 days, the center has now basically been holding them for months even as the Trump administration continues to stall with its immigration policies.
“We asked them about the conditions and they kind of nodded their heads, ‘It’s okay,’ but what are they going to say when everyone around them is watching?” Beto O’Rourke said about the children at the center.
“But there was something in the look on their faces, that we saw the way they weren’t really engaged.”
I’m at #tornillo w @BetoORourke @SenJeffMerkley @maziehirono @TinaSmithMN. We must #shutdowntornillo — this is a child prison. Children, no matter where they’re from, should not be treated this way. pic.twitter.com/2nO1rhgZjE— Judy Chu (@RepJudyChu) December 15, 2018
An update on Tornillo after this morning's tour: 2,700 kids are now being kept inside the camp that was originally opened for 360. Some have been there since summer. pic.twitter.com/B9AH7HeuMv— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) December 15, 2018
O’Rourke told the gathered crowd that the Trump administration had been carrying out extensive — often unnecessary — background checks on the sponsors of these children, especially having introduced a new fingerprinting policy, which meant that the children could expect to stay there indefinitely. He called on the current administration to stop treating children this way.
“No place is going to be right unless it is with their parents or their families,” said O’Rourke, who came close to beating Texas incumbent Ted Cruz in the midterms with his progressive agenda and views on immigration reform.
“This facility is open because this administration has decided that those family members who can sponsor these kids and have them in their homes right now, and take care of them and help them be well and get back on their feet, are going through onerous background checks which have produced 170 apprehensions.”
Donald Trump and his administration have been panned universally for enforcing the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the southern border, leading to massive protests which called on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be abolished.