SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Ever since President Trump reversed his border policy, a lot of Americans have been under the impression that families are back together and the problem has been solved.
But one Bay Area lawmaker who visited border detention centers this weekend told KPIX 5, he observed what he is calling a “humanitarian crisis.”READ MORE: New COVID Variant 'Omicron' Identified In San Francisco; Here's What You Need To Know
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) just returned from his trip to the Texas border. He was part of a delegation of eight Democratic House members who toured detention centers in South Texas.
DeSaulnier said that things may have improved from when the separation policy was in effect, there are still many problems.
“It’s better than it was before, but the damage has already been done,” said DeSaulnier. “If an average American saw what I saw — seeing families separated, being lied to — they would be appalled.”
No cameras were allowed inside, but the Congressman said he saw scenes like the ones shown in government images released earlier this year. Children were still living in cages.
He said he spoke directly with families that had been torn apart by the zero-tolerance border policy, some of whom have been reunited.READ MORE: How Does The Coronavirus Mutate? It's Just A Series Of Mistakes
He told KPIX 5 one traumatized child reported that authorities told him his family had abandoned him.
“He was told, ‘Your parents brought you here. They sacrificed everything to get a better life. They don’t want to see you again. So you’re going into foster care to be adopted by someone and you’re never going to see your parents again,'” explained DeSaulnier.
A federal judge has set a deadline of this coming Thursday, July 26, for all the families to be reunited. But according to a government report released this past week, less than 15 percent of the families — 364 of the total 2,551 families affected — are back together so far.
Sunday morning, Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio said the federal government doesn’t appear capable of meeting the deadline.
“We don’t have the capacity to hold families together and that’s one of the challenges we have,” said Rubio. “We don’t have hundreds of facilities designed to hold families. So I think they are doing the best they can with those limitations. And hopefully they’ll get as many of those families together as possible.”
When asked what would happen if were unable to reunite the families, Rubio replied, “If they don’t, obviously, we’ve got that court mandate that requires them to potentially allow people to go free.”MORE NEWS: Bay Area Music Icon Carlos Santana Undergoes Heart Procedure; Cancels December Shows
Congressman DeSaulnier and other Democrats are calling for hearings on the border crisis, but the Republican-led House has rejected those calls.