Beto O’Rourke Calls for “Public Pressure” on Trump to Close Child Migrant Camp

More than 2,500 children are being held in Tornillo, Texas.

Nick Wagner/AP

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Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) on Saturday urged Americans to pressure the Trump administration to close a child migrant camp run by the Department of Health and Human Services in Tornillo, Texas. More than 2,500 children, most of whom arrived unaccompanied at the border, are currently being kept there—due largely to a controversial Trump administration policy change that has made it more difficult to release the minors to adult sponsors.

O’Rourke called for the type of widespread activism that earlier this year helped force the administration to end its policy of separating migrant families who enter the country illegally. “The public pressure that you brought to bear after Father’s Day that ended the practice of family separation—we need that same pressure again, brought to bear on this administration, to close Tornillo,” O’Rourke said.

Joining O’Rourke were Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.). Merkley and O’Rourke are both considering running for president in 2020.

The Tornillo camp opened in June amid the Trump administration’s family separation crisis. It was originally supposed to hold only a few hundred minors, but it later expanded. Last month, an HHS inspector general report found that BCFS Health and Human Services, a nonprofit that runs Tornillo, wasn’t conducting required background checks on employees and called the level of mental health care for the children at the camp “especially worrisome.”

Merkley also criticized the facility on Twitter, calling it a “child prison camp.” He claimed officials refused to let the members of Congress speak to the children. (O’Rourke, however, said he was able to speak to some children at the facility. HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Merkley’s tweet.) “The vast majority of these children have parents or other family members who are ready to sponsor them in the US,” Merkley continued, “but the Trump Administration has deliberately created a bottleneck so that it’s difficult for the children to be released.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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