'No justification': Senators criticize family separation practice at border
June 22, 2018 06:25 PM
EL PASO, Texas – The end of the week at the U.S.-Mexico border brought with it more questions, minimal transparency and frustrated politicians.
On Friday U.S. Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., were in Tornillo, Texas, where the Trump administration erected tents to house teen boys separated from their families.
A building located a few miles from the border is where U.S. Border Patrol agents take families they've detained to interview and then separate them. It's those family separations that have drawn sharp criticism from political leaders.
"These kids should never have been separated from their families," Heinrich said. "This is the fundamental problem, and this administration created a disaster of its own making."
Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal joined Udall and Heinrich in Tornillo, where the group of senators said they were working to find out the conditions of the separated kids.
While media weren't allowed to enter the tents, the senators emerged after about an hour, describing limited access.
"We were not given access to an actual walk-through of the tents and the facilities," Blumenthal said. "We were shown video of it. We were given a general briefing—we spoke to none of the children."
But the senators did shed new light, saying they learned about 260 teen boys were housed in Tornillo on Friday, their ages ranging from 14 to 18.
The tents are equipped with air conditioning and the boys have access to showers. They are also provided nutritious meals by the contractor running the tent city.
"To see children in effect in prison, no matter what the age, even the best prison breaks my heart," Blumenthal said. "There is no justification for confining and imprisoning these young people who have done nothing wrong except seek freedom and asylum."
Heinrich added there is legislation they have co-sponsored that would put an end to family separation at the border.
"But this was a manufactured crisis," he said. "This was a choice by the administration to separate children as young as toddlers from their parents. This was not something as a result of the law or Congress."
Earlier this week Trump rolled back the family separation policy, but hundreds of children remain isolated from their parents, with officials not making clear how families will be reunited or when.
Updated: June 22, 2018 06:25 PM
Created: June 22, 2018 05:02 PM
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