GOP Rep. ‘Outraged’ at Being Turned Away from Immigrant Children’s Shelter

Sign outside the Southwest Key Casa Padre unaccompanied-minor shelter in Brownsville, Texas, June 18, 2018. (Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters)

Republican representative Carlos Curbelo said Friday that he was “outraged” at being refused entry to a government shelter housing immigrant children despite setting up his visit in advance.

“Tried to visit an #ImmigrantChildren shelter today. Visit had been confirmed with local operators for over a week,” Curbelo wrote on Twitter Friday. “All protocols to request, schedule & get clearance were followed, and yet last night was told by @HHSGov staff in Washington I would be refused entry.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gave the “excuse” last month that “protocol” must be followed for such a visit, the Florida congressman wrote in another tweet, which added that he was “outraged” at the incident.

Several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have attempted to visit shelters for detained immigrant children in recent weeks, including Democratic senator Jeff Merkley. Merkley and five others showed up at the Southwest Key Casa Padre children’s shelter in Texas early last month, and were asked to leave by police. The Oregon lawmaker said his staff, much like Curbelo’s, had called beforehand to arrange the visit.

“They do not want members of Congress to see what’s going on inside. They do not want the public to see what’s going on inside,” Merkley said on a Facebook livestream as he waited outside the facility.

“Thankfully for the safety, security and dignity of the children being cared for there, they were denied access,” a spokesperson for the HHS Administration for Children and Families told ABC News regarding the visit. “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.”

Curbelo said that he will now back a bill by Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) which would require HHS to allow members of Congress to visit immigrant children in government custody.

“Executive must not obstruct the legislative branch’s Constitutional authority and responsibility to conduct oversight,” Curbelo wrote. “Blocking us from doing so only encourages suspicion you have something to hide.”

Around 3,000 children have been separated from the adults with whom they crossed the border following the implementation of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration-enforcement policy, which aims to prosecute all adults who immigrate to the U.S. illegally.

Most Popular

Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More