• January 28, 2022
 HHS Officials Tell Congressmen 7 girls; 23 Other Children Separated From Families at Tornillo Facility

HHS Officials Tell Congressmen 7 girls; 23 Other Children Separated From Families at Tornillo Facility

Department of Health and Human Services Officials told U.S. Congressmen Democrats Beto O’Rourke and other members of the House and Senate that seven girls, between the ages of 13 to 17 years old, are currently at the tent shelter at the Tornillo Port of Entry.

The teen girls, who are from  Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, attempted to cross into the country illegally with their parents; were separated from the boys. A total of 200 children were at the shelter O’Rourke said.

A total of 23 children were said to be separated O’Rourke said, and HHS official told them. And while the situation was not ideal, the children, he said, seemed to be in “good spirits.”

That being said, O’Rourke stressed that the group asked the children how long they had been there and where they came from, and whether they had come with their parents or not. Some had confirmed that they crossed with their parents, and others said they had come alone.

“Some said they had been here one month, two months and up to three months,” O’Rourke told the press during a conference following his visit to the shelter. “We were told that seven girls had been brought in today.”

Additional Congressmen that joined O’Rourke included U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, San Antonio, Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, Stephanie Murphy D-Florida; Kathleen Rice, D and Tom Suozzi of New York and Republican U.S. Rep Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Mike Coffman, Colorado and Roger Marshall of Kansas during their visit earlier today to the shelter.

Udall said while he was not worried about the conditions of the camp, he was worried about heading into another humanitarian crisis.

“The separation of children from their families and from their moms and dads has ended up being a disaster and we didn’t plan for it. We didn’t have a real organization in place to accomplish things and get it down. I think it’s really clear here that you don’t just sign an executive order to get things done.”

Officials told the group that the children are allowed two 10-minute phone calls a week to their parents or family, and they have showers in the facilities as well as a means to tend to their medical needs.

However, when the U.S. Representatives asked questions regarding the location of the children, they were not given direct answers.

Instead, Castro and O’Rourke said they were told by HHS officials that it was not their job; or they were unsure.

“We did not get a clear answer of which facility are holding the young women and girls and that’s disturbing.”

Alexandra Hinojosa

“Once journalism is in your system, it’s hard to get it out… and then you realize, it’s there to stay.” – Alex Hinojosa is a full time instructor at El Paso Community College and a former El Paso Times journalist. FULL BIO

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