U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke was one of five congressional Democrats who visited Tornillo this weekend, where children, mainly teenagers from Central America, remain in federal custody.
The West Texas facility first opened in June and has had its contract renewed three times. O’Rourke said a fingerprint policy that went into effect in the summer is part of what is keeping the tent city open.
That policy requires the sponsors of migrant children – and every adult in that sponsor household – to submit fingerprints. That information is then turned over to Immigration and customs enforcement
"The facility is open because this administration has decided that those family members who could sponsor these kids and have them in their homes right now and be taking care of them and help those kids be well and get back on their feet are going through onerous background checks which have produced 170 apprehensions, 109 of those apprehensions had no criminal background whatsoever," O'Rourke said.
There are currently 2,700 migrant teens held at the Tornillo detention center. Nationwide, the number of migrant children in government custody is nearly 15,000.