U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, said, “It is, for all intents and purposes, a prison.”
Even when parents and children aren’t separated, they are often housed in adjacent cells that keep them apart, the lawmakers said.
The Democrats added they hadn’t seen a clear federal system for reuniting those who were split up, since everyone — even infants — is assigned “A” or alien numbers, only to be given different identification numbers by other federal agencies.
“There are still thousands of children who are out there right now untethered to their parents and no coherent system to fix that,” Rep. Joe Courtney, a Democrat from Connecticut, told reporters after the tour.
In Florida, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and four of the state’s Democratic House members toured a detention center in Homestead, where approximately 100 immigrant children were being held after being taken from their parents.
Nelson and other lawmakers were turned away from the facility on Tuesday while trying to access the center, according to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She added that they should have only been asked to wait a few hours to enter — not days.
Rep. Darren Soto said the decision by the facility’s administrators to deny Nelson and Wasserman Schultz access earlier made him wonder what they were hiding.
Reps. Frederica Wilson and Ted Deutch took 50 red, white and blue balloons with them inside. Wilson said the balloons were to show the children that the American people care about them.
While the protests raged on across the nation, Trump was landing in Nevada where 300 people gathered in Las Vegas to protest outside a casino where the president headlined a fundraiser for Republican Sen. Dean Heller. He also delivered the keynote address at the Nevada GOP convention.
During his keynote address, Trump referenced the gang MS-13, calling members “animals” and said that immigration is a strong issue for Republicans to run on.