Wisconsin lawmakers tour migrant detention centers

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Washington, July 16, 2019 | comments
Taurean Small
Spectrum News NY1

Quite a few lawmakers say the emergency spending bill that Congress pushed through a couple of weeks ago is a start but Washington will have to do more in order to move the needle on what they’re calling a growing humanitarian crisis at the Southern border.

House Oversight Democrats traveled to Homestead, Florida at the beginning of the week to get a close up look at the treatment of more about 1,300 migrant children detained at a local holding center.

“I still have more questions than answers and when we get back in two weeks I’m going to pose a lot of those questions about the conditions here, the costs and about what’s happening,” said Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison.

At $750 a day per detainee, Congressman Pocan believes the migrant children he saw weren’t getting proper care.

“This is warehousing of children in defense of an indefensible policy,” he said. “That’s my best assessment.”

But he and his Democratic colleagues agreed what they saw at the facility was vastly different from the images coming out of similar sites in Texas like the processing center in McAllen that Congresswoman Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee visited over weekend.

“I am concerned about the attitude that they have about these immigrants,” said Rep. Moore in a video she posted to twitter.

Moore’s group toured the center just days after Vice President Mike Pence did a walk though. She tweeted out her they were required to wear face masks because of a recent Meningitis outbreak.

But gridlock remains in D.C. on any longterm substantive solution to the growing immigration problems at the border.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin however, believes one answer could be speeding up the asylum process. He’s drafting a proposal called Operation Safe Return. It would rapidly put asylum-seekers through an intensive interview and return folks who did not meet the criteria to their home countries. 

“If it’s a large enough number, the communication, the message to Central American would be on a bipartisan basis we’re not going to allow human traffickers to exploit our laws anymore,” said Sen. Johnson.

Sen. Johnson says he’s working across the aisle on this proposal and vows to hold more hearings on the crisis at the border.

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