Tornillo tent city releases last minor migrants, begins closing

Friday, HHS issued a statement that the last of the migrant teens being held at the Tornillo tent city detention center has been released. The center is now in the process of closing, though the need for such facilities has not stopped.

“Though Tornillo is on a path toward closure, influx facilities like Tornillo are necessary for HHS to care for [unaccompanied alien children] referred to us by the Department of Homeland Security,” said Lynn Johnson, the Health and Human Services assistant secretary who oversees the program. “As the Trump administration continues to enforce current laws to address our nation’s crisis at the border, the program will need to continue to evaluate needs and capacity in order to care for the hundreds of UAC that cross the US border daily. The program is designed to expand and contract to meet these needs and facilities, like Tornillo, have been critical during periods of influx as was done in 2012, 2014, and 2016.”

In December I wrote about Democrat superstar Beto O’Rourke calling for the center’s closure. O’Rourke brought along other Democrats critical of the Trump administration’s enforcement of existing immigration laws. He never actually offered up an alternative plan for handling the influx of unaccompanied minors flooding the border in the migrant caravans or for those children who arrive illegally in our country with adults. It’s just all about feelings and emotions and virtue-signaling of perceived moral superiority coming from the open borders crowd.

Rep. Will Hurd, a moderate Republican representing a swing district that includes Tornillo, is pleased with the closure. The former CIA officer was the first elected official to tour the facility and do interviews about it.

Not all of the migrant minors have been released to adult guardians or parents. Some have been transferred to other facilities. Shutting down a detention facility on the border doesn’t solve the problem. For some to speak as though the detention facilities are the problem and not the illegal entry into America is just political posturing. While it is troubling that minors are held without their adult family members, that is the law and serves as protection for those brought here for exploitation. President Trump has ended family separation policy enforcement but the problem of verifying adults to take custody of the minors remains.

The federal contract with the facility has been renewed on a monthly basis since last June but in December the company administrators decided to stop accepting minors for detention and notified the Trump administration. The company was unwilling to continue meeting requirements that called for FBI background checks on adults claiming custody of the children. The majority of these children were detained as unaccompanied minors so finding adult guardians, if any were coming forward for them, required background checks to ensure their safety. The Trump administration wanted all adults in the household to be under background investigation.

But company officials who ran the facility told ABC News last month that the company had refused to accept a government contract past Jan. 1. They blamed the government for causing the crisis by demanding onerous FBI background checks and bureaucratic rules that caused some children to languish at the facility for more than 50 days.

With the system buckling under the strain of caring for so many children, the Trump administration announced in December that it would loosen requirements for sponsorship.

So, what now? The tents will come down and the goal is for complete closure by the end of this month. Also, the background investigation requirements have loosened. That means less protection for these kids while cutting down on the work of the detention center administrators.

The next step is to dismantle and remove tents and other structures, with hopes of completely shutting down the camp before the end of the month, according to the BCFS official.

In December, the Trump administration reversed a policy that immigration advocates said caused thousands of unaccompanied migrant children to remain in shelters for extended periods.

HHS no longer requires fingerprint checks for all adult members of a household when a sponsor applies to take in unaccompanied minors, according to the agency. Sponsors must still be fingerprinted and undergo background.

As Jazz wrote about Friday, another caravan is on the move. The necessity of strictly enforcing current laws continues because the border personnel are overwhelmed. Simply shifting the unaccompanied minors to other facilities, probably further away from the border, isn’t solving the problem. As things stand now, the resources at the southern border are simply stretched too thin. Let’s hope the new Mexican government’s leadership will continue to help stem the wave of these organized caravans and ease the problem at the American southern border by preventing illegal entries in the first place.