The Slatest

Democratic Congressman O’Rourke Leads March on Tent City for Migrant Children

Central American asylum seekers, including a Honduran girl, 2, and her mother, are taken into custody near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas.
Central American asylum seekers, including a Honduran girl, 2, and her mother, are taken into custody near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas.
John Moore/Getty Images

Hundreds of people took part in a march from El Paso, Texas to a tent city set up in Tornillo, Texas that is housing children who are under detention for immigration violations. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is running for the Senate to unseat Republican Ted Cruz, is the one who led Sunday’s protest alongside former judge Veronica Escobar, who is the Democratic nominee to fill his seat in the House.

Lots of people participated in the march even though it came together quickly considering O’Rourke announced it was taking place on Friday. In fact, Tornillo’s turn in the spotlight has been a very quick development. The administration confirmed only on Thursday that Tornillo would be the site of a detention center for immigrant children. By Sunday morning, there were 200 minors in the center, according to O’Rourke. Around 40 of them had been separated from their parents. That number, however, may be misleading because many children are labeled as being “unaccompanied” once they are separated from their parents.

“This is inhumane,” O’Rourke said on CNN’s State of the Union. “I’d like to say it’s un-American, but it’s happening right now in America. And it is on all of us, not just the Trump administration. This is on all of us.” O’Rourke, who said he’s working with other lawmakers on legislation to end family separations, said the goal of the march was to build up “public pressure” in order to push the administration to change its policy.

“I think the American people are going to force us to do the right thing,” O’Rourke said. “That always happens in America. It is frustrating. It’s slow. It doesn’t happen right away. But ultimately, we get it right, and I’m confident that the American people this time are going to get it right.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, continued to defend the policy, saying it was the fault of people who decided to undertake the perilous border-crossing with their children. And, besides, it was a problem under former president Obama, too. “There’s no doubt that the images that we’ve seen of children, and children being separated from their parents, are heartbreaking. They were heartbreaking when Obama was president,” Cruz said Saturday. “I visited the Obama camps that he set up to detain little boys and little girls who crossed the border illegally. Illegal immigration produces human tragedies that are wrong.”