Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) slammed the Biden administration on Tuesday after news surfaced that they have reactivated the opening of a Texas detention facility meant to hold migrant separated children.
“This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay – no matter the administration or party,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in a series of tweets Tuesday.
The progressive firebrand reacted to a report from the Washington Post of an emergency center facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas once briefly utilized in 2019 under the Trump Administration was reopened. The detention center is able to hold up to 700 minor teenagers from the ages 13 to 17.
“Our immigration system is built on a carceral framework. It’s no accident that challenging how we approach both these issues are considered “controversial” stances,” AOC tweeted. “They require reimagining our relationship to each other and challenging common assumptions we take for granted.”
Ocasio-Cortez in a follow-up tweet went after the Biden Administration for only being in office for a short time, saying the move will not help with the “unjust immigration system” to “transform.”
“It’s only 2 mo[nths] into this admin[station] & our fraught, unjust immigration system will not transform in that time,” she tweeted. “That’s why bold reimagination is so important. DHS shouldn’t exist, agencies should be reorganized, ICE gotta go, ban for-profit detention, create climate refugee status & more.”
Ocasio-Cortez fellow Squad member, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) joined in a short time to pile on the Biden Administration for its “callous” decision to reopening the detention facility.
“Multiple administrations have made the callous choice to lock up thousands of children seeking refuge in the United States of America,” Omar tweeted.
“As long as we see people seeking a better life as ‘aliens’ instead of fellow human beings, our immigration system will continue to fail us,” she added.
The decision infuriated immigration advocates and sparked allegations of hypocrisy from President Biden who had vigorously decried that the Trump administration were ripping migrant children from their [parents’] arms and failing to reunite the separated families and promised end child migrant detention. They also
One of Biden’s 50 executive orders he had signed in the one month since taking over established a task force focused on reuniting migrant families that had been separated under the former president’s 2018 zero-tolerance policy.
“The situation at the border will not transform overnight, due in large part to the damage done over the last four years,” the Biden administration fact sheet read of the executive order. “But the President is committed to an approach that keeps our country safe, strong, and prosperous and that also aligns with our values.”
However, it appears the Biden Administration in reopening the Texas facility that it was continuing the Trump-era policy of detaining children despite rescinding it.
The White House defended the move on Tuesday, insisting it is a temporary measure necessitated by the pandemic.
“To ensure the health and safety of these kids, [the Department of Health and Human Services] took steps to open an emergency facility to add capacity where these kids can be provided the care they need before they are safely placed with families and sponsors,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. “This is not kids being kept in cages. We are in a circumstance where we are not going to expel unaccompanied minors at the border. That would be inhumane.”
“It’s a temporary reopening during COVID-19, our intention is very much to close it, but we want to make sure we can follow COVID protocols,” she added. “Our goal is for them to then be transferred to families or sponsors. So, this is our effort to ensure that kids are not in close proximity and that we are abiding by the health and safety standards that the government has been set out.”
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Monday that it was reactivating a temporary “Influx Care Facility” capable of holding up to 700 minors aged 13 to 17 in Carrizo Springs, Texas, as well as another facility in Homestead, Florida.
A Health and Human Services spokesman, Mark Weber told the Washington Post that putting minors in permanent centers is ideal, but for now, they would have to stay in the influx shelters like Carrizo and Homestead.
As of last week, there are roughly 6,800 unaccompanied children in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to HHS.