Omar’s office announced Wednesday she’ll be traveling to Texas with Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, who has organized the trip for members of Congress.
They’ll tour the Carrizo Springs facility operated by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Biden administration reopened the shelter in February to accommodate more than 700 migrant children amid a surge of minors seeking asylum at the border in recent weeks.
Press will not be allowed to join the Democratic lawmakers inside the facility, per guidelines from the Biden administration, but the members of Congress will hold a news conference outside the shelter afterward at 1 pm. EST on Friday, her office said.
Castro said the congressional delegation will provide “oversight to ensure humane treatment and orderly process to unite kids with families” while their asylum cases are adjudicated.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks at a town hall in South Minneapolis on ICE and the administration’s immigration detention policies, at the Colin Powell Center in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)
Omar had been an outspoken critic of former President Trump’s immigration policies.
Meanwhile, a group of 18 GOP senators will be in Texas Friday to observe the conditions at the border.
Some of those attending with Texas GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn held a news conference Wednesday at the Capitol blaming Biden’s rhetoric and executive orders for the migrant surge and criticizing his administration for denying press access to the border facilities.
“If they’re not going to allow the press into these facilities, that really is unfortunate,” said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. “We’ll do what we can to be your eyes and ears and communicate the information we’re able to acquire while we’re there.”
On Wednesday, a delegation of White House officials and members of Congress toured the Carrizo Springs facility in rural Texas and allowed one TV network crew inside with them to cover the visit.
The pool reporter inside found there were 766 minors at the facility, and at one point the numbers reached about 800.
As of now, 108 of the children housed in Carrizo Springs tested positive for coronavirus when they entered the facility. They are kept isolated in negative air pressure dormitories. No child is supposed to be released from the facility until they have two negative Covid tests, according to the pool reports.
Migrants walk on a dirt road after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in Mission, Texas. A surge of migrants on the Southwest border has the Biden administration on the defensive. The head of Homeland Security acknowledged the severity of the problem but insisted it’s under control and said he won’t revive a Trump-era practice of immediately expelling teens and children. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
((AP Photo/Julio Cortez))
The children housed there are males between the ages of 13-17. At the intake center, the children are tested for coronavirus and given a duffel bag of clothes, shoes, underwear, and a hygiene kit before heading to the dormitories.
There are 1,100 staff members on-site, including 180 doctors and nurses.
The children attend virtual school for six hours a day and are allowed to play outside multiple times, including soccer at nighttime under a lit field, according to the pool reports. For hobbies, the teenage boys were spotted knitting at the facility, with some even wearing colorful knit hats in the 80-degree Texas heat.