Children play outside detention center

CNN's Gary Tuchman travels to Tornillo, Texas, where the Trump administration has temporarily housed unaccompanied immigrant children, as the agency seeks more capacity amid the increasing number of families separated at the border because of the administration's practices.

Posted: Jun 17, 2018 2:42 PM
Updated: Jun 17, 2018 2:42 PM

Texas Rep. Will Hurd said Saturday that the use of detained children, such as those being separated from their parents at the southern border, as a deterrent policy is "unacceptable."

"We should not be using kids as a deterrent policy," Hurd told "CNN Newsroom" anchor Ana Cabrera. "This is something I think is actually unacceptable, and is something that as Americans we shouldn't be doing."

The Republican lawmaker visited the Trump administration's temporary shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children in Tornillo, Texas, which is in his border district, on Friday night.

"This really isn't a Republican or Democratic issue," he said. "This is an issue about how should you treat children."

Hurd also called for the administration to change the policy.

"This is clearly something that the administration can change. They don't need legislation to change it," Hurd told Cabrera. "This is a Department of Justice policy, and this is something that's being enacted by (the Department of Health and Human Services)."

"If we have to separate kids from their parents, then we probably need to rethink our strategy on how we're securing our country," he added.

Touring Tornillo

Earlier Saturday, Hurd said in a separate interview with CNN that the Trump administration has not provided an adequate explanation to him about how it is keeping track of undocumented immigrant parents and children being separated at the southern border and how to reunite them.

"That's nuts," he said.

The shelter primarily houses teenage boys who came to the US alone, and he said they are being treated well. But the very need to put them in a temporary shelter was a problem, he added.

"It's an indication that the policy is flawed," Hurd added. "We're the United States of America. We shouldn't be using kids as a deterrent for border security."

Reunification procedures put the onus on the parents to use Department of Health and Human Services hotlines to track down their kids, according to information provided by the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Health and Human Services that CNN has reviewed.

Advocates who work with immigrants say it is extremely difficult for parents to track their children under the procedures, adding that adults in detention cannot receive phone calls, making it hard to connect with their kids in Health and Human Services facilities.

Based on information available to him as a member of the Homeland Security Committee, Hurd said his understanding is the Tornillo facility has the capacity to expand to up to 4,000 beds. He also said that in addition to the 2,000 children separated from their parents from mid-April through May, at least 200 more kids were separated from adults at the border in the last two weeks.

The Republican lawmaker added that the conditions for detainees at the temporary shelter in Tornillo were good.

"This facility is run by emergency management professionals that, you name the crisis, they've been there," Hurd said. The kids "get three square meals a day and two snacks" and that legal representatives and case workers are on the premises, he added.

But Hurd said he has grave concerns after his visit about the value and prudence of the policy that is resulting in more family separations, and he questioned why the government would want to separate children and put more strain on an already taxed system for undocumented immigrant kids.

There are alternatives to separating families that still make sure those families show up for immigration court proceedings, he added, citing a DHS family case management program that the Trump administration ended that was more than 90% effective at having families meet their court requirements.

"Based on the visit and seeing the volume, we need to stop separating kids from their families, and we need to make sure we're putting a little bit more focus on addressing the root causes in Central America," Hurd told CNN. "We need to be exploring to alternatives to detention."

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson echoed the need for the US to focus on the conditions causing the illegal migration, calling the current policy "unsustainable."

"You cannot flood the federal criminal justice system with thousands of migrants per month into the system, extract guilty pleas from them, sentence them, somehow have some supervised release. The system cannot sustain that longer-term," the Obama-era official told CNN's Cabrera.

"This is obviously a deliberate effort short-term to try to send a shock to the system and drive the numbers down," Johnson said. "History teaches that longer-term, the trends are going to revert to where they were before -- 40, 50,000 per month -- as long as we fail to address the underlying push factors in Central America."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 133802

Reported Deaths: 2402
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin34033991
Ramsey14073360
Dakota9823138
Anoka8661150
Washington593272
Stearns582543
Scott338234
Olmsted325230
St. Louis296569
Wright248314
Clay229743
Nobles226816
Blue Earth20437
Carver17897
Sherburne168522
Kandiyohi16705
Rice163310
Mower151717
Winona125019
Crow Wing101022
Chisago10022
Lyon9656
Benton9409
Waseca9289
Beltrami8917
Otter Tail8627
Todd8055
Steele7593
Nicollet73017
Itasca72717
Morrison7269
Douglas6963
Freeborn6694
Polk6434
Le Sueur6235
Martin61317
McLeod5974
Goodhue58511
Watonwan5784
Becker5614
Pine5430
Isanti5415
Chippewa4353
Carlton4341
Mille Lacs40615
Dodge3940
Hubbard3902
Wabasha3780
Cass3705
Pipestone35017
Rock3284
Meeker3263
Brown3213
Unassigned29053
Yellow Medicine2836
Cottonwood2800
Murray2783
Redwood27511
Roseau2640
Fillmore2600
Renville25211
Sibley2523
Faribault2310
Wadena2313
Jackson2101
Kanabec20910
Houston2041
Swift2011
Pennington1911
Lincoln1820
Stevens1821
Aitkin1792
Koochiching1694
Pope1560
Big Stone1380
Wilkin1344
Lac qui Parle1333
Marshall1211
Lake1190
Norman1150
Mahnomen1132
Clearwater1110
Grant984
Red Lake782
Traverse560
Lake of the Woods441
Kittson400
Cook160

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115574

Reported Deaths: 1621
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk18874288
Woodbury718394
Johnson584430
Black Hawk557498
Linn5513129
Dubuque518657
Scott454138
Story398918
Dallas344344
Pottawattamie323544
Sioux242516
Buena Vista225512
Marshall201436
Webster183015
Plymouth165727
Wapello152562
Clinton148326
Muscatine144258
Des Moines138610
Cerro Gordo136225
Crawford135514
Warren12477
Carroll114512
Jasper109634
Henry10545
Marion100710
Lee95410
Tama94437
Delaware77812
Dickinson7347
Wright7191
Boone7179
Mahaska68724
Bremer6719
Harrison65311
Washington65311
Jackson6283
Benton5812
Lyon5497
Clay5284
Louisa52115
Winnebago48719
Hardin4757
Winneshiek4749
Hamilton4684
Kossuth4660
Cedar4605
Poweshiek45611
Buchanan4514
Jones4444
Floyd43311
Emmet42917
Clayton4193
Iowa4059
Cherokee4022
Page3990
Mills3971
Sac3974
Guthrie39115
Cass3883
Franklin38018
Butler3782
Fayette3744
Shelby3721
Allamakee3638
Madison3603
Chickasaw3561
Clarke3493
Humboldt3233
Hancock3164
Palo Alto3102
Calhoun3074
Grundy3075
Osceola2791
Mitchell2750
Howard2699
Monroe25911
Monona2441
Jefferson2381
Taylor2362
Union2324
Appanoose2253
Pocahontas2232
Fremont2021
Lucas2016
Ida1922
Greene1860
Davis1764
Van Buren1742
Montgomery1737
Adair1611
Keokuk1601
Decatur1500
Worth1440
Audubon1421
Wayne1203
Ringgold882
Adams810
Unassigned260
Rochester
Clear
19° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 19°
Mason City
Clear
20° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: 13°
Albert Lea
Clear
19° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 19°
Austin
Clear
21° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: 21°
Charles City
Overcast
21° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 17°
Feels Like: 15°
Temps gradually warming through the week!
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events