California lawmaker: Migrant detention facility 'well kept, very clean'

California lawmaker: Migrant detention facility 'well kept, very clean'
© Greg Nash

A California Republican lawmaker who was denied entry to an immigrant detention facility in the state earlier this month is praising the facility after be allowed to visit.

Rep. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamEx-RNC, Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy charged in covert lobbying scheme Bottom line Bottom line MORE (R-Calif.), who visited the facility in Pleasant Hill, Calif., on Monday after being barred from entering on July 2, called it "very clean and orderly" but said he still thinks the government needs to share more details about children housed there.

"It's very obvious these kids have been through a lot," Denham said in an interview with McClatchy.

Earlier this month, Rep. Mark DeSaulnierMark James DeSaulnierDozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House Rep. DeSaulnier leaves ICU after 3 weeks to continue treatment for pneumonia Rep. DeSaulnier in critical condition due to pneumonia MORE (D-Calif.) toured the same facility, which holds approximately 20 children under the age of 13.


Afterwards, DeSaulnier described meeting two adolescent girls who were separated from their parents at the southern border by the Trump administration.

"I can only imagine what they went through to get here and they were separated at the border when they presented themselves with their parents for asylum,” DeSaulnier told the Mercury News.  

Denham said those girls had been reunited with their parents by the time he visited on Monday. 

"It was well-kept, very clean and orderly, they had their own beds and two to a room," Denham told McClatchy. "They go on weekly field trips and had just gone to a university this week."

The Trump administration came under fire last month for its "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which resulted in thousands of migrant children being separated from their parents at the border. After enormous bipartisan pushback, President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE signed an executive order ending the family separation practice. 

Since the public was alerted to the family separation policy, news and legal organizations have conducted multiple investigations into immigration detention facilities that have resulted in allegations of rampant abuse and neglect, including the alleged sexual abuse of children

A federal court ordered the government to reunite all of the 2,551 separated children with their families by last Friday. As of that time, 1,820 were reunited with their parents or other guardians, 20 were found to have not been separated and 650 were not eligible for reunification.

Reports emerged last week that the government had deported more than 400 parents before they could be reunited with their children, making up the bulk of those "ineligible" for reunification. Immigration rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have accused Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of intentionally misleading parents into thinking deportation was their only option.

Activists have also expressed concern that many parents did not know what they were agreeing to, as many of the forms they signed were in English. 

"We need full transparency and we’re not getting it,” Denham told McClatchy. “I want to know how many unaccompanied minors are coming in, how long they stay in these facilities, how many are sent to foster care, how many are sent to family members and how soon they’re getting court dates. Those questions haven’t been answered.”