Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., had some strong words for President Biden’s administration after news broke that it was reopening a detention center for migrant children in Texas.
“This is not right, it’s never been right, it will never be right, regardless of the administration or the party,” the progressive icon tweeted on Tuesday.
She added: “It’s only been 2 months in this administration and our strained and unfair immigration system will not be transformed at that time. That is why bold reimagining is so impt. DHS shouldn’t exist, agencies should reorganize, ICE has to go – detention for profit, creating climate refugee status and more. “
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Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, continued to tweet: “Various administrations have made the callous decision to lock up thousands of children seeking refuge in the United States of America.”
“As long as we see people seeking a better life as ‘aliens’ rather than as human beings, our immigration system will continue to fail,” he added.
Located in Carrizo Springs, Texas, the center will reopen after the Trump administration used it amid the immigration crisis in 2019. According to The Washington Post, the facility will be reactivated to house 700 underage teens after the coronavirus limited capacity in other facilities.
The news raised additional questions about how President Biden would handle an expected influx of unaccompanied children at the southern border.
In addition to denouncing “caged children” under Trump, Biden also told lawmakers in 2019 that he would end the detention of migrant children. It appeared that with this new facility the administration was continuing the practice of detaining children even after rescinating a Trump-era policy that led to family separation.
On Monday, a White House spokesperson told Fox News: “The president’s approach is to treat immigration holistically, fairly, and humanely. It is the policy of this administration not to remove unaccompanied children arriving at our borders. The Border Patrol will continue to transfer unaccompanied children to the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement so that they can be properly cared for in appropriate shelters, in accordance with their best interest. “
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When asked for details on whether the children are being detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the White House referred Fox News to that agency for more details. CBP did not respond to a request for comment.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki similarly told Fox News on Tuesday that the administration’s policy focused on not expelling unaccompanied children. “The process, how it works, is that Customs and Border control continues to transfer unaccompanied children to the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement,” he said.
Former Acting Undersecretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli told Fox News on Monday that every time CBP forcibly held the children in custody, they were detained.
“If they are not free to leave, it is detention, regardless of the nature of the facility,” said Cuccinelli, who recently started as a visiting fellow with the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Tuesday that the US immigration system was built on a “prison framework.”
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“Our immigration system is based on a prison framework,” he said. “It is no coincidence that challenging the way we approach these two issues is seen as ‘controversial’ positions. They require reinventing our relationship with each other and challenging common assumptions that we take for granted.”
The White House did not immediately respond when asked about Ocasio-Cortez’s comments.
Peter Doocy and Brooke Singman of Fox News contributed to this report.