U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who was recently appointed chair of the US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, visited the U.S. Mexico border Friday and talked to unaccompanied minors from Central America. Media have been prohibited from accompanying politicians and their visits to the facility.
"I think DHS should allow some press access to these facilities," Murphy said
Murphy said he didn’t take any photos inside the facility he visited in El Paso, but said it didn’t look anything like these photos released by Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas. Cuellar's office did not say who took the photos, but said they were taken this weekend.
“I haven’t seen those photos. That’s a different facility,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he’s not defending the amount of time children are spending at these facilities.
“There are not children in chain-link cages. There are child care workers in these facilities. There are health care workers in these facilities," Murphy said.
“We’ve gotta move these kids out of these detention facilities faster. But the increases are coming so quickly that it’s difficult to increase the capacity at HHS," Murphy said.
Murphy said he knows there's a risk that by not turning away unaccompanied minors there is a risk of incentivizing more to seek asylum.
“We can help. There are 200 or more nonprofits spread across the United States that can help alleviate the crisis at the border," Chris George of I.R.I.S. in New Haven said.
George said they can help once these unaccompanied minors are sponsored by a family member in the United States. They currently aren’t assisting any.
“We can connect them to health care. Enroll the kids in school, provide English language training and also connect them to legal aid so they can apply for asylum," George said.
In 2014, Connecticut nonprofits hosted around 325 children who entered through the southern border. It’s unclear if that will happen this year.
“Connecticut would love to welcome some of these families," George said.