Sen. Chris Murphy on Friday said he "fought back tears" during a visit to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Texas holding hundreds of migrant children from Mexico, Central America, and beyond.
"How did it come to this, that a country defined by our warm embrace of immigrants now must be defined by our irrational fear of them? We must be better."
—Sen. Chris Murphy
Murphy (D-Ct.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, toured the migrant processing center in El Paso with a bipartisan group of senators and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Their visit came amid a massive influx of unaccompanied migrant children that has overwhelmed CBP personnel since President Joe Biden took office in January.
Although Biden has told asylum-seeking refugees fleeing violence, repression, and economic privation "don't come over," many migrants have made the perilous journey hoping for a better shot at remaining in the U.S. now that the days of former President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policies are over.
Murphy tweeted that he saw hundreds of children—"one all the way from Chile"—"packed into big, open rooms" in the Texas facility. The senator said the children looked "exhausted" yet "hopeful." He continued:
Just left the border processing facility. 100s of kids packed into big open rooms. In a corner, I fought back tears as a 13 yr old girl sobbbed uncontrollably explaining thru a translator how terrified she was, having been separated from her grandmother and without her parents.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 19, 2021
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A few quick takes from my trip to the border:— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 19, 2021
1/ the Biden Administration is trying their best to uphold the rule of law with humanity. They have a ton of work ahead to clean up the mess Trump left them, but their intentions are true.
3/ Seeing the wall in person is unexpectedly devastating. How did it come to this, that a country defined by our warm embrace of immigrants now must be defined by our irrational fear of them? We must be better.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 19, 2021
"Remember, each 'unaccompanied minor' is a human being with a story," Murphy tweeted.
Earlier this week, Common Dreams reported the Biden administration ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to aid in the government's response to the surge in unaccompanied minors crossing into the United States. The move came in response to reports of overcrowding and squalid conditions in which children were taking turns sleeping on floors and were going long periods of time without basic health and hygiene practices like showers and access to sunlight.