Sen. Jeff Merkley's (D-Ore.) trip to the border and attempt to tour a detention center for underage immigrants led to a run-in with local authorities on Sunday.
In a 24-minute Facebook livestream, Merkley attempted to gain entry to the facility in Brownsville, Texas, used to house the children of detained, undocumented immigrants.
Watch the video below:
“This is a former Walmart that has been turned into a center for children,” the senator said at the start of the video before explaining that his office reached out ahead of time but was told he would not be allowed into the facility.
“I think it's unacceptable that a member of Congress is not being admitted to see what's happening to children whose families are applying for asylum,” he explained.
Merkley was ultimately denied entry — but it didn't end there. Before Merkley left the facility, local police were called.
I was barred entry. Asked repeatedly to speak to a supervisor—he finally came out and said he can’t tell us anything. Police were called on us.
Children should never be ripped from their families & held in secretive detention centers. RT if you agree this is WRONG. pic.twitter.com/GVCuXNjR8d
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) June 4, 2018
“This cruel treatment of children and families arriving to the U.S. is completely un-American and unacceptable,” Merkley said in a statement about his trip to the border. "Americans should be outraged by the fact that our taxpayer dollars are being used to inflict spiteful and traumatizing policies on innocent children.
“The Trump administration's vicious, heartless family separation policy must be stopped,” he added.
In an interview with CNN's “New Day” on Monday, Merkley discussed his experience at the detention center:
Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley was denied entry to an immigrant detention center.
The federal government does “not want members of Congress or the public to know what's going on” in the center, which allegedly holds 1000 kids separated from their parents, he says. pic.twitter.com/RUOzwkbkUS
— New Day (@NewDay) June 4, 2018
“This is very, very traumatic for the children,” Merkley said of policies that separate detained minors from their parents.
“So I wanted to be able to visit the facility where, apparently, upwards of 1,000 children are being held in that massive building at a former Walmart,” he explained, saying that the federal government does “not want members of Congress or the public to know what's going on.”