Heinrich, Udall call for hearing on detention facilities

By:  Scott Turner

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s U.S. senators are calling for hearings after reports of alleged sexual assault and inhumane treatment of migrant children in federal detention facilities.

Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall sent a letter to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., on Wednesday requesting a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the standards for U.S. Border Patrol detention facilities. Johnson is the chairman and Peters the ranking member of the committee.

“We believe there is an immediate need to hold a hearing calling Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, and Border Patrol leadership to provide a full accounting surrounding the treatment of migrant children in immigration custody and their plans to safeguard against such conditions happening in the future,” the Democratic senators wrote. “We must also secure a commitment from DHS and CBP that Congress and its representatives are able to carry out its oversight responsibilities appropriately through on-site visits and interviews with detained migrants. We should do everything in our power to hold DHS and its component agencies accountable for adhering to American values and for executing a clear plan to right this horrific wrong.”

Heinrich and Udall are requesting a “promptly” scheduled hearing on facilities holding unaccompanied children and the conditions at the Border Patrol facility at Clint, Texas.

“Reports of overcrowded and inhumane conditions for detained children at the Clint facility raise serious concerns and questions that Congress must address,” the letter reads. “While the circumstances that led to the conditions at the Clint facility are still not fully known to the public, the information that has been published and witnessed in part by our staff is alarming and demands further investigation.”