Six months ago after Tornillo’s “Tent City” began housing unaccompanied immigrant children, El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke was one of the first to be able to tour the facility.
He and other members of Congress returned and said things have changed — and not for the better.
“Well in many ways, those in which you can measure, it’s worse. We’ve gone from hundreds to now thousands of children. Kids who’ve been here for days who now have been here for months, almost half a year in some cases and there’s no end in sight,” Congressman Beto O’Rourke tells KTSM the facility is now holding approximately 2,700 children.
Other members of Congress also visiting the detention camp had difficulties even when inside the facility, “We couldn’t even find a way to talk to the children to understand what their experiences are like. We can’t get good information on how many people have been here so long. That is unacceptable. It is our responsibility as members of Congress to provide oversight over the executive branch and we’re determined to do that,” Minnesota Senator Tina Smith tells KTSM.
According to members of Congress, many children could be released to sponsors who could take care of them while they await their proceedings.
“They would go through all the court proceedings over time but at least they’d have a designated U.S. person that can take care of them,” a California U.S. Representative said.
Some members of Congress also say detention camps will be at the top of their list when they go back to Congress on January 3rd.