TORNILLO — The population of unaccompanied immigrant minors detained in a tent camp in Tornillo now includes Central American children whose parents have already been deported to their home countries, U.S. Reps. Beto O’Rourke and Joaquin Castro confirmed to reporters Saturday afternoon.
The two Democrats also said that among nearly 300 minors at the facility, which opened about a week ago, there are at least seven young women between the ages of 13 and 17 at the facility, all of whom arrived Saturday morning.
O’Rourke, Castro and U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, were allowed inside for about an hour and said the conditions inside were humane and credited the staff with maintaining safe conditions. But the lawmakers said they were given little information about the minors from federal officials — so they asked the children themselves.
“We asked, ‘How long have you been in detention?’ We heard one month, we heard two months, we heard up to three months,” O’Rourke, D-El Paso, said after he was briefly allowed to talk to some of the undocumented minors.
O’Rourke said he was also told that some of the minors confirmed they had arrived with their parents and were separated, while others arrived alone.
Castro, D-San Antonio, said he was concerned that federal officials have provided little information about where they have detained female minors.
“We know that there are enough [minor females detained] to where we should be seeing more of them, and they can’t give us a full accounting,” he said. “And that’s very disturbing.”