CBP: Migrant children could be held at port of entry in Tornillo

Migrant children could be held in Tornillo

TORNILLO, Texas - ABC 7 has learned the federal government could house the immigrant children of adult detainees at the Marcelino Serna Port of Entry in Tornillo, Texas. 

When the facility at the port of entry was set up in 2016 to hold immigrant refugees, it was built to hold as many as 500 people.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The article has been corrected to remove a statement incorrectly attributed to CBP Spokesman Ruben Jauregui.  

Ruben Jauregui, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, send ABC-7 the following statement: "While this would be occurring at the Marcelino Serna POE, it is not a CBP matter."

Government officials have not set a timeline for the transfer of children to either the Tornillo or Ft. Bliss facility, but some state lawmakers are trying to stop it before it even begins, claiming separating children from their parents can have long term adverse effects on the child.

Some Texas state lawmakers are condemning the practice. The representatives were told the Tornillo site, as well as Fort Bliss, will house children of immigrant detainees. "Temporary shelters at military basis may resemble baby jails at detention centers," said state representative Cesar Blanco, a Democrat who represents District 76.

A representative with an immigrant rights group told ABC-7 no one from the immigrant advocate groups know where the children are being taken to. The representative further stated "Tornillo would be the best option since a temporary shelter is already established."

Longtime Borderland journalist Ed Shugert helped to teach immigrant children when they were housed at Fort Bliss in 2016.

Critics of these facilities have compared them to Japanese internment camps during World War II, Shugert said.

"This was not that," he said.

"For the most part, the kids wanted to be there," he added.

Tuesday, McClatchy reported the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is eyeing Fort Bliss as a potential location for a cluster of temporary shelters that could house between 1,000 and 5,000 children.

The Texas Tribune reports thousands of immigrant children have been separated from their parents in the wake of the new policy requiring immigration authorities to prosecute adults who enter the country illegally seeking asylum, while children are placed in shelters or with families.

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