Democratic lawmakers on Saturday participated in a demonstration that took place in the border town of Tornillo, Texas, to demand the closure of the child immigrant detention center built by the Trump administration.
At present, some 2,700 child migrants are being held in the facility, with many youngsters languishing there for months. Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley described the facility as a “child prison,” and he was joined by other legislators, including Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and California Rep. Judy Chu, Representative-elect Veronica Escobar of Texas, and Minnesota’s Tina Smith, and Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono.
According to O’Rourke, though the delegation visited the facility, it wasn’t able to talk extensively to any of the children, a report by Common Dreams revealed.
“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?” O’Rourke asked. “But there was something in the look on their faces, that we saw the way they weren’t really engaged.”
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the Trump administration opened the Tornillo camp in June of 2018 when the administration was undergoing a family-separation crisis. The camp originally intended to keep only a few hundred children, however, it was later expanded.
1400 kids could be released immediately if the Trump Administration changed its fingerprinting policy. Sponsors are afraid to come forward for fear that their legal status will be investigated by #ICE. #Tornillo
— Judy Chu (@RepJudyChu) December 15, 2018
The report also said that most children detained at the facility arrived at the U.S. border unaccompanied, and have been kept there because of the controversial policy of the Trump administration that has made the procedure of releasing minors to U.S.-based adult sponsors more complicated.
“No place is going to be right unless it is with their parents or their families,” O’Rourke stressed.
“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.”
Democratic Rep. Judy Chu supported O’Rourke’s argument and assured the American public that when the lawmakers would “take over the House on January 3rd, [she would] want to make sure that one of the first things [they] do is have a hearing on this situation.
“The American public doesn’t know how outrageous this is,” she added.
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
Per the report, after setting up a visit weeks in advance, the delegation was able to take a tour of the overcrowded center.
Representative-elect Veronica Escobar of Texas joined her colleagues and pointed out that the corporate media has failed to provide adequate coverage to the condition of the children in the facility.
“It’s all about the 24-hour news cycle, it’s all about the next piece of information, it’s all about the next scandal coming from the White House,” Escobar explained. “While we have to pay attention to all of that, we cannot forget the children that are being held in U.S. government prisons for having the audacity to seek refuge in the arms of America.”