Tornillo to house unaccompanied immigrant children in ‘tent city’

El Paso News

The Trump administration has selected Tornillo to house undocumented immigrant children in tents, NBC News reports.

According to the report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will build a “tent city” which will hold about 450 beds.

An HHS spokesperson released the following statement to KTSM on Thursday:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with the support of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has selected Tornillo Land Port of Entry as a temporary shelter location for unaccompanied alien children cared for by HHS’ Administration for Children and Families.  HHS will continue to keep local and congressional officials informed during this process. 

 

HHS is legally required to provide care and shelter for all unaccompanied alien children referred by DHS, and works in close coordination with DHS on the security and safety of the children and community.  

 

This effort has no impact on the ability of DHS to conduct its primary missions.

As KTSM previously reported, HHS officials say the department is expanding the shelter space to allow it to find sponsors to care for the children while their immigration cases proceed.

According to a news release published by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Tornillo Port of Entry previously housed unaccompanied immigrant children in 2016.

According to NBC News, more than 570 unaccompanied children were in Border Patrol custody last week.

Nearly 300 of them were held for more than 72 hours — the limit for holding immigrants at border stations.

“HHS is legally required to provide care and shelter for all unaccompanied alien children referred by [the Department of Homeland Security], and works in close coordination with DHS on the security and safety of the children and community,” an HHS spokesperson told NBC News in a statement.

State Senator Jose Rodriguez issued the following statement to KTSM regarding the decision:

We should have “zero tolerance” for this inhumane, immoral treatment of these children who have been forcibly separated from their asylum-seeking parents. Putting children in tent cities, especially in El Paso where it’s more than 100 degrees, is reminiscent of the disgraced and convicted Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who showed complete disregard for the rule of law and due process. This is what totalitarians in the Middle East and elsewhere do. For this President, due process and the rule of law, which are cornerstones of individual freedom, are nothing but an impediment to using state powers to target vulnerable people. Immigrants are being targeted now. Who will be next?

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