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Home | Tag Archives: trump tent city

Tag Archives: trump tent city

Tornillo Tent City for Migrant Teens is on the Verge of Shutting Down

EL PASO — After more than six months of serving as a symbol of President Trump’s hardline immigration policies, the detention center for young migrants at Tornillo is on the brink of closing for good.

“We expect the vast majority of [unaccompanied alien children] currently at Tornillo to be released to a suitable sponsor by the end of the month,” said Mark Weber, spokesperson for the federal Health and Human Services agency, which oversees the care and detention of undocumented minor children. “If a suitable sponsor has not been identified for [unaccompanied minors] by the time operations at Tornillo conclude, the [immigrant] will be transferred to an appropriate shelter in the [Office of Refugee Resettlement] network.”

The facility near El Paso opened in June to house mainly unaccompanied minors who crossed the border without parents or guardians. Critics decried the facility as a “tent city” after it was hastily erected, and its construction led to several protests organized by elected officials. At one time it held more than 2,500 undocumented minor immigrants who crossed the border seeking asylum.

On Tuesday, HHS said the population at the facility was down to about 850 children and its goal was to “to close Tornillo as quickly but as safely as possible – for both the [immigrants] and all the personnel who have worked faithfully for months providing excellent care for these vulnerable children” Weber said.

The closure was first reported by VICE news, which also reported that as recently as last week, the facility still held 1,500 unaccompanied minors. The outlet also published photographs of the facility’s tents being dismantled.

News of the facility’s potential shuttering comes after the contract between HHS and Texas-based BCFS Health and Human Services to operate the center was extended several times since last summer. In June, BCFS officials said they were hopeful that the Tornillo facility would only be needed for a few weeks, but the federal agency extended the contract after the number of migrant children crossing the border remained steady or increased during the last half of 2018.

On Tuesday, a BCFS official said the company’s goal was in line with HHS’s timeline and the company hoped to have the facility empty by the middle of the month and completely closed by Jan. 31.

Weber said in his emailed statement that circumstances beyond HHS’s control could determine whether the migrants still at Tornillo are able to be united with sponsors already living in the United States.

“There are all sorts of factors that come into play that impact our ability to transfer or release [unaccompanied minors] to suitable sponsors … ranging from cancelled airplane flights because of weather (happens all the time) to scheduling a home visit when needed,” he said.

Read related Tribune coverage

Author: JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

Senator Rodríguez’s Statement on Trump’s Tent Camp in Tornillo

State Sen. José Rodríguez’s issued the following statement on the Trump administration’s decision to set up a “tent city” in Tornillo to house children forcibly separated from their asylum-seeking parents:

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?

***

José Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, and Presidio. He represents both urban and rural constituencies, and more than 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Senator Rodríguez currently serves as the Chairman of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus, and is a member of the Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Economic Development; Transportation; Veteran Affairs and Border Security; and Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs (Vice Chair)

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