U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) was hoping to visit with those being held in an immigration detention center in Texas; instead he was barred from entering and had the police called on him, and the whole encounter was recorded and posted to Facebook on Sunday.
Merkley traveled to the facility in Brownsville, called Casa Padre, to criticize a recent Trump administration policy that will likely result in more undocumented immigrant children being separated from their parents. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last month that the Justice Department would dramatically increase prosecutions of families who cross the U.S. border illegally, even if children would be removed from their parents during the process.
The video shows Merkley trying to tour the facility—where his staff had tried to set up a meeting. The Oregon senator walks up to what he says was a former Walmart with now blacked-out windows and attempts to go inside to speak with the supervisor. He’s told by an officer that he can’t come in, but her supervisor will come out to meet the senator.
Police arrive around the time the supervisor emerges to tell Merkley that he can’t go into the facility and to give him an outside number to call.
“The reason why I came is this new policy that the attorney general has in place of families that are waiting for the adjudication of their application for asylum in the U.S., and the children are being separated,” Merkley tells the police officers, HuffPost reports.
“We [are] usually told ahead of time if anybody is going to come and visit us,” the facility’s supervisor says, adding that he won’t tell the lawmaker anything.
Merkley notes that the center “may currently be housing hundreds of refugee children who have been separated from their parents” and adds that no member of Congress has visited the facility, which is being run by a nonprofit group called Southwest Key Programs.
Sessions has defended the new policy, saying that separating children from families attempting to cross borders without documentation will serve as a great deterrent.
“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said at a conference in Arizona last month, HuffPost reports. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
Democrats have blasted the policy as completely un-American and against everything this country stands for, but that hasn’t stopped President Donald Trump from blaming the separation of families on the Democratic Party, because he doesn’t know what the hell is going on in his own administration. Recently Trump tweeted:
No one inside the Trump administration had the heart to tell Trump that the policy is actually one of the hallmarks of his trash-ass presidency. Or maybe they did and Trump ignored them, or maybe they wrote it down and Trump can’t read.
Merkley tweeted this after being denied entry to the immigration facility:
Trump has yet to respond or issue Merkley a dumbass nickname, which would indicate that he actually read the senator’s tweet.