Ore. Sen. Merkley turned away from Texas facility where he says children kept from parents

Senator Jeff Merkley outside facility in Texas - Photo courtesy the senator's Facebook page

MCALLEN, Texas – Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley said he was turned away Sunday from an unaccompanied minors shelter in Texas where children are said to be kept away from their parents at the border.

The senator said he was visiting the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas following a recent Trump administration policy announced May 7 that he says separates children from their parents at the border and puts them in different detention facilities – rather than family facilities.

He said he visited one of those border stations Sunday, but was refused entry to the site.

“This cruel treatment of children and families arriving to the U.S. is completely un-American and unacceptable,” said Merkley. “Americans should be outraged by the fact that our taxpayer dollars are being used to inflict spiteful and traumatizing policies on innocent children.”

Merkley made the trip with officials from the local American Civil Liberties Union, and talked with locals and asylum-seekers at a church in town. In a press release, Merkley’s office said “many of these asylum seekers survived harrowing journeys, fleeing violence and instability, with the goal of starting over in the United States.”

KATU News received the following statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Monday:

United States Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), along with five other individuals, attempted to enter an unaccompanied alien children’s (UAC) shelter unannounced and broadcast live via social media last night in Texas. Thankfully for the safety, security and dignity of the children being cared for there, they were denied access. The Department of Health and Human Services takes the legal mandate to care for these children seriously. No one who arrives unannounced at one of our shelters demanding access to the children in our care will be permitted, even those claiming to be U.S. Senators. Senator Merkley should respect the UAC program and engage in the appropriate processes, as many of his colleagues have done before him, to visit ORR facilities. We would welcome him to engage in that process so that he may visit the facility to make headway on this important issue, rather than just headlines.


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