CLINT, Texas (KTSM) – Standing outside the U.S. Border Patrol station in Clint, Beto O’Rourke blamed the Trump administration for the poor care detained children inside allegedly have been enduring.
“It is cruelty on the part of this administration. I don’t know the motive, but it is intentional, it is cruel and it is inflicting torture on these kids,” O’Rourke, a Democratic presidential candidate, said on Sunday.
He also criticized the Trump administration for trying to “pass the buck” to Mexico when it comes to caring for thousands of migrants who’re coming from Central America and other countries to seek asylum.
“This administration, the United States, has forced thousands of asylum seekers to be turned back from our borders and remain in Juarez, where they do not have the resources to take care of them. Where those who are waiting become prey to kidnappers, rapists or criminals who will take advantage of them. And that is exactly what is happening,” O’Rourke said.
The bureaucratic wall in the United States is “producing a level of desperation” on the part of the migrants, many of whom decide to pack up and cross between ports of entry, sometimes ending up dead in canals or the Rio Grande, he said.
In addition to calling for an end to child detentions, O’Rourke stood against the Remain in Mexico program, also known as Migrant Protection Protocols, and spoke in favor of allowing migrants to apply for asylum at their own countries.
“But let me be very clear, if (the migrant) nonetheless decides to make her journey, I dont’ think that in any way should undermine her claim of asylum and she should be treated with the utmost respect and care when she arrives at this border,” he said.
O’Rourke spoke to more than 100 supporters gathered outside the Border Patrol station where last week visiting lawyers denounced shortcomings including poor supervision, lack of care and supplies like diapers and toothbrushes.
The office of Customs and Border Protection has denied the allegations and this week organized a press tour of the facility — without allowing photographs or video to be taken and without allowing reporters to interview the detainees.
Child crisis mobilizes El Pasoans
While they waited for O’Rourke to return from a shelter for migrants in Juarez, Mexico, people at the rally called for an end of child detentions.
“I mean, they’re human. They’re coming over here for a reason. Granted, something needs to be done (about unauthorized migration), but not this s—! And that is all it is, s–. Our president knows this and he doesn’t mind. Why? Because they are brown,” said Doug Stevens, a resident of Horizon City.
Others chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, child detentions got to go!”. A single Trump supporter showed up early with a sign calling O’Rourke a “traitor,” but he refused to say his name when KTSM tried to interview him.
O’Rourke stuck to the immigration issue during the rally, speaking at length about his visit to Casa del Migrante in Juarez.
He said he met a father from El Salvador who came with his 4-year-old son, enduring hardships along the way and watching one of his fellow travelers die.
“We are forcing suffering and in some cases death among these people. To deny them is to deny America and its own success,” he said.
As president, O’Rourke said he would work with the Central American countries from where the migrants are coming from to do something about the factors that are bringing them here: drug and gang violence, political instability and economics.
“We will help those countries and their citizens in Central America who have to make this God-awful decision to make this 2,000-mile journey … those who have suffered hardship in parts of the world where there was civil wars in which we participated. whether it’s because we are the largest market for illegal drugs on this planet, or the war on drugs we have visited on these countries,” he said.
Many of the gangs making life hard for citizens of those Central American countries, for instance, are led by individuals deported from the United States, he said.
“We have some culpability in this, but we also have the opportunity to make it right, to invest in solutions that reduce the violence in Central America,” he said.
The former congressman from El Paso restated his intent to push for immigration reform that includes the legalization of undocumented immigrants and the decriminalization of illegal entry into the United States.
“Let us rewrite this country’s immigration laws, let us protect millions who are laboring under this sun right now without legal protections, maybe making minimum wage if they are lucky, but far too often making less or nothing at all, their immigration status used as leverage to keep them in some kind of modern-day bondage,” he said.
On Monday, about a dozen officials who are part of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus are scheduled to visit the Clint Border Patrol station as part of a fact-finding tour.