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: 40767

Reported Deaths: 1533
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin13054790
Ramsey5127233
Dakota257094
Stearns248119
Anoka2360111
Nobles16766
Olmsted123518
Washington122840
Mower9742
Rice8738
Scott8234
Clay60138
Kandiyohi5871
Blue Earth5442
Wright5165
Carver4421
Todd4022
Sherburne3445
Lyon3322
Freeborn3090
Watonwan2450
Steele2431
Benton2353
St. Louis21816
Nicollet19112
Martin1725
Cottonwood1380
Goodhue1388
Winona13615
Le Sueur1191
Pine1110
Crow Wing11012
Chisago1051
Otter Tail1041
McLeod990
Dodge970
Carlton890
Polk863
Unassigned8638
Isanti800
Chippewa791
Waseca750
Douglas690
Itasca6912
Murray680
Pipestone674
Meeker621
Morrison621
Faribault610
Becker570
Jackson570
Sibley572
Pennington530
Beltrami430
Brown432
Renville372
Mille Lacs362
Wabasha350
Fillmore310
Rock310
Yellow Medicine310
Houston290
Swift291
Grant240
Norman210
Redwood210
Roseau210
Wilkin213
Cass192
Big Stone170
Koochiching171
Kanabec161
Wadena160
Aitkin150
Lincoln130
Marshall120
Pope120
Clearwater100
Mahnomen101
Stevens100
Hubbard80
Lake60
Traverse60
Lac qui Parle40
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34080

Reported Deaths: 742
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk7196182
Woodbury331744
Black Hawk245759
Buena Vista173311
Johnson14058
Linn136683
Dallas136531
Marshall108019
Scott100210
Dubuque91822
Story8515
Pottawattamie80612
Wapello71431
Muscatine68544
Crawford6793
Sioux4970
Tama48229
Wright3971
Louisa36513
Plymouth3455
Webster3454
Jasper33717
Warren3111
Dickinson2953
Cerro Gordo2661
Washington2499
Hamilton1981
Boone1641
Clay1481
Clarke1433
Allamakee1384
Clinton1301
Shelby1200
Mahaska11917
Carroll1101
Poweshiek1108
Bremer1067
Pocahontas1061
Franklin1040
Des Moines1002
Emmet950
Cedar941
Henry933
Hardin890
Cherokee821
Taylor810
Monona780
Marion770
Floyd762
Benton741
Guthrie734
Jones690
Osceola660
Sac650
Butler642
Buchanan621
Jefferson620
Calhoun612
Iowa611
Humboldt591
Hancock581
Harrison580
Delaware561
Fayette560
Jackson560
Lee542
Madison532
Monroe517
Lyon500
Clayton483
Palo Alto480
Grundy470
Mills470
Winneshiek450
Mitchell440
Davis421
Kossuth410
Union380
Howard370
Lucas344
Winnebago330
Greene300
Chickasaw290
Cass270
Unassigned270
Ida230
Keokuk231
Worth220
Appanoose213
Van Buren210
Page200
Adair170
Audubon161
Ringgold151
Decatur130
Montgomery112
Wayne110
Fremont100
Adams80
Rochester
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 79°
Mason City
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 82°
Albert Lea
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 81°
Austin
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 81°
Charles City
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 81°
Cooler air finally filtering in, rain chance returns Saturday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Connecting with a loved one with dementia during the pandemic

Image

Bruins set to host all-star game

Image

COVID-19 Cases Expected to Spike in North Iowa

Image

Training hard for a season that might not happen

Image

Sean's 6pm Weather 7/10

Image

Sweet Corn season kickoff

Image

Getting caught in the act

Image

Forum tomorrow: educating young voters

Image

Donation to Channel One Food Bank

Image

Concern over spread of COVID-19 downtown

Community Events