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Saturday , January 19 2019
RHINOS 2018-2019 728
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Home | Tag Archives: tornillo tent camp

Tag Archives: tornillo tent camp

Tornillo Facility for Migrant Kids will Remain Open into 2019, Federal Government Confirms

The immigration detention center for undocumented migrant youth at Tornillo, Texas will remain open into next year, the federal Health and Human Services agency confirmed Thursday.

The facility, which critics have called a “tent city” and sits on a remote port of entry in far West Texas, was opened in June to house mainly unaccompanied minors who crossed the border without parents or guardians. At that time the shelter operators were hopeful it would only be needed for a few weeks, but HHS has extended the contact with the shelter operator, Texas-based BCFS, several times since then.

The Associated Press first reported the news that the facility would remain open late Wednesday; an HHS spokesperson confirmed news of the extension to the Tribune Thursday morning.

“BCFS is continuing to work with us until all [unaccompanied alien children] are safely released to suitable sponsors or transferred to a permanent shelter,” HHS spokesman Mark Weber said in an email. “Our goal remains to close Tornillo as quickly but as safely as possible – for both the [unaccompanied alien children] and all the personnel who have worked faithfully for months providing excellent care for these vulnerable children.”

Weber added that the facility in Tornillo will not receive any more unaccompanied children and no one currently at the facility is there because of the earlier family separations policy, an enforcement initiative by the Trump administration that placed undocumented adult migrants in separate facilities from their children after they crossed the border. That policy ended in June. As of Nov. 30, BCFS had received just over $144 million from the government to run the facility.

On December 25, there were about 2,300 children at Tornillo, about 20 percent of whom were female, according to the most recent HHS fact sheet. Since the facility opened, about 6,200 children have been placed there and 3,900 have been released to relatives or sponsors.

News of the latest contact extension comes as lawmakers and immigrant rights groups made a last-minute push earlier this month to have the facility shuttered for good.

In June U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar led a march of hundreds of protesters to decry the president’s immigration policies and demand more information about the Tornillo facility. In November, Escobar was elected to take over O’Rourke’s congressional seat.

At a smaller rally earlier this month, O’Rourke said it was incumbent on the immigrants’ advocates to keep a spotlight on the facility to ensure it closes as soon as possible.

In addition to the Tornillo facility, the HHS will expand capacity at a shelter in Homestead, Florida from 1,350 to 2,350.

Read related Tribune coverage

Author: JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

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.”

Bordertown Undergroun Show 728
RHINOS 2018-2019 728