Nogales, AZ – Yesterday, Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and local religious leaders were denied a tour of Customs and Border Patrol’s (CBP) make-shift processing center for unaccompanied children arriving primarily from Central America. The facility – a converted warehouse now housing as many as 1,100 minors ranging from 3 to 17 years old – has been widely criticized for housing children in substandard living conditions. Congressman Grijalva released the following statement:
“Congress has the right and the duty to provide oversight of the Executive Branch. Today’s tour was intended to shed light on a facility whose operation has raised broad concerns for the safety and well-being of vulnerable children. Being turned away only invites more questions about the appropriateness of this process, instead of providing answers.
“We need transparency here. We need to know the extent to which officials are properly using the resources available within the community. Trust in this process is essential, and forbidding community leaders who work with the immigrant community and understand the needs of these children will raise skepticism about the process.
“This is more than a plea for mercy from the most vulnerable among us – it is a moment that will define who we are as Americans for generations still to come. I have no intention of sitting by while the federal government creates a humanitarian crisis in our own backyard.”
Rep. Grijalva’s attempt to tour this facility was the latest in a concerted effort to ensure dignity and security for these vulnerable youths. His efforts have included meetings with local leaders and a letter to President Obama urging the health and safety of each child remain the Administration’s top priority.
The full text of Congressman Grijalva’s letter to President Obama can be viewed here.