NC Rep. Described Tour Of Migrant Children Center In Texas
CHARLOTTE, NC — The Trump Administration admits will miss Tuesday’s deadline to reunite some migrant children separated from their parents at the U.S. Mexico border.
Democratic Congresswoman Alma Adams says the administration need to be held accountable.
She returned to Charlotte Monday after touring a detention center in Texas.
She wants Congress to hold a hearing because staff couldn’t answer basic questions.
“They didn’t take me through the whole thing. It appeared to be organized in that way. I don’t know if that was deliberately done because early on, there was a congressman they wouldn’t let in. So they’ve done some work,” said Rep. Adams. “I want to go back unannounced.”
Rep. Adams says her visit to one of the largest facilities seemed staged.
“Not really real,” said Rep. Adams.
She says it’s called Southwest Key in Brownsville, Texas.
It used to be a big box superstore.
She says staff says 1,200 to 1,400 children are there. Approximately 150 of them were separated during the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy.
She says an occupancy sign initially said it held just more than 900 children, but staff says that changed under the policy.
Rep. Adams says staff did not take her to the portion of the facility where children spend their first days. She says staff described that as having cots and says the children are checked out by a doctor or nurse.
She said what they showed her reminds her of a day camp.
It was all boys, ages 10 to 17. She says they did not seem separated by age.
She said children were playing outside, Spanish music was playing.
“Looks like they’re just housing them,” said Rep. Adams. “In terms of how they’re treating them, I don’t know.”
She says they wouldn’t let her talk to the kids.
Staff says they provide school.
Rep. Adams asked about the curriculum.
“It didn’t sound to me, as an educator, that they really had an organized curriculum. I did ask to see it,” said Rep. Adams. “They didn’t show me anything.”
She asked if the children ever leave the facility.
She said staff said the children can leave at any time. However, she said armed security were stationed throughout the gated complex.
“He said we take them on field trips. I said where do you go? He said, well we might take them to a movie or something,” said Rep. Adams.
Staff says 1,200 people work there.
“They have a number of young people who look to me that they may be college age supervising the playing,” said Rep. Adams.
She said staff showed her a phone with programmed numbers to social workers and counselors if the children need help or need to report abuse.
She said staff showed her another phone where children can make phone calls twice a week.
She says staff could not give her clear numbers on the number of children or how long they’ve been there.
“They couldn’t tell me how many have been reunited,” said Rep. Adams.
Nearly 3,000 children were separated under the Trump Administration zero tolerance policy. 102 are under the age of five.
A court gave the Trump Administration until Tuesday to reunite the younger ones.
The Justice Department says it could only reunite as many as 59 in time.
“I also want to go to one of the facilities where they have the younger children,” said Rep. Adams.
Some parents of kids over the age of five who are out on asylum say they are hitting roadblocks trying to get their children back, even with proof of guardianship.
Staff says children are only supposed to say there 49 days. Then, they are either deported or Department of Human Services could take over.