PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley made a visit to the southern-most part of Texas on Sunday that resulted in local law enforcement being called.
Merkley, in a Facebook Live broadcast, went to the front door of a former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, a week after he said he was denied a tour of the facility. The 19,000-square foot building is run by Southwest Key Programs, an Austin-based non-profit that works for the federal government’s unaccompanied minor program, according to the Brownsville Herald. The Unaccompanied Children’s Services Program falls under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.
When Merkley arrived, he found a building with all the windows covered and no way inside. He called a number and talked to one apparent employee outside of the building, hoping to talk to a supervisor.
After several minutes and another phone call, a supervisor did come out. At that point the apparent supervisor walked over to local law enforcement who were called to the scene.
I was barred entry. Asked repeatedly to speak to a supervisor—he finally came out and said he can’t tell us anything. Police were called on us.
Children should never be ripped from their families & held in secretive detention centers. RT if you agree this is WRONG. pic.twitter.com/GVCuXNjR8d— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) June 4, 2018
Merkley has opposed many of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, including the plan for a wall separating the Mexico and United States border.
You can watch all of Merkley’s Facebook live here and below.
The White House responded to Merkley on Monday, saying, according to Politico, that Merkley was “irresponsibly spreading blatant lies” and “smearing hardworking, dedicated law enforcement officials” with his social media broadcast.
“No one is taking a public safety lecture from Sen. Merkley, whose own policies endanger children, empower human smugglers and drug cartels, and allow violent criminal aliens to flood into American communities,” White House Spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a written statement.
That statement led Merkley’s Office to respond, as well.
“The White House is smearing Senator Merkley because they can’t defend their indefensible policy of snatching children from their parents. Senator Merkley and his staff saw children in cages yesterday at the DHS processing center. We still have no idea what’s happening in the detention center where reportedly up to a thousand children are being held, since they refused the Senator’s request to go inside.
“President Trump and the administration are engaged in a cruel policy of inflicting trauma on children by ripping them out of the hands of their parents. By doing so with taxpayer dollars, they are making all Americans complicit in this unconscionable action. Americans have every right to full transparency about the cruelty being inflicted in our names.”