U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that the Tornillo Port of Entry will be a tent city site for children who are separated from their families.
Friday, KTSM reached out again to HHS to find out more about when the children would begin arriving, but we have yet to hear back. Crews at the Port of Entry reported seeing at least one bus enter with children and what appeared to be adults on board.
While we were in Tornillo we saw a bus arrive but it wasn’t clear who was inside. We later saw this activity near the tents, it looks like a mix of children and adults. pic.twitter.com/D2v2qmwqAO— Alejandra Briones (@KTSMAlejandra) June 15, 2018
Thursday evening, vans arrived at the tent city but there were no signs of children inside.
This all comes after the Trump Administration enacted a “Zero Tolerance” policy that criminally prosecutes immigrants who cross into the United States illegally. Under previous Presidential Administrations the removal process was handled as a civil matter.
Congressman Beto O’Rourke visited a Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen earlier this week where parents had already been separated from their children. On the senate floor, O’Rourke called on his colleagues to “act now.”
“This is our opportunity to do the right thing, we will be judged by our conscience, by our children and by history. This is our moment of truth,” O’Rourke said.
Since his visit to McAllen, legislation has been introduced that would prevent the separation of families at the border. For now, KTSM is waiting on confirmation that children are already being housed in the tent city facility at the Tornillo Port.
Republican Congressman Will Hurd, who represents Tornillo released a statement expressing his frustration with the lack of transparency about the process. “I’m disappointed in the lack of information that HHS has provided about the detention situation along the border especially plans for a “tent city” in Tornillo,” Hurd said.
“The crisis along the border is not new and will continue until we have smart border security, work to address root causes of mass migration from Central American countries and have enough immigration judges to apply consequences for violation of the law. Our strategy to solving our broken immigration system should never include the use of children as a deterrent,” said Hurd.
This isn’t the first time tent cities have been used to house immigrants in El Paso or Tornillo. The practice was also used in 2014 during the Obama Administration to house unaccompanied minors who arrived from South American countries without their families.