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Lawmakers Raise Concerns About Safety Of Migrant Children At Texas Detention Camp

An AP investigation has revealed the Trump administration waived FBI fingerprint background checks for roughly 2,100 staff members working at the facility.

Ivan Pierre Aguirre via AP
In this Nov. 15, 2018 photo provided by Ivan Pierre Aguirre, migrant teens held inside the Tornillo detention camp look at protesters waving at them outside the fences surrounding the facility in Tornillo, Texas.

Lawmakers are raising concerns about the safety of migrant children held at a detention camp in West Texas.

An Associated Press investigation published this week revealed the Trump administration waived rigorous FBI fingerprint background checks for roughly 2,100 staff members working at the Tornillo tent city.

That temporary shelter falls within the district of Democratic State Representative Mary Gonzalez. She says she's been worried about the lack of transparency at this detention site since it was first established in June.

"So we heard when it was initially established it was only for 300 kids, for 30 days. Now we're at over 2,000 kids indefinitely. So for me, what's really important is that when you keep changing the game, it's really hard to maintain transparency and accountability," Gonzalez said.

Republican Congressman Will Hurd released a statement Wednesday describing the problems in Tornillo as "shameful" and added that "detaining kids in Tornillo is the most expensive and least effective policy approach that fails to address root causes of migration flows or make anyone safer."

Because the Tornillo facility is on federal land, it is not currently subject to state inspections. The shelter's current contract lasts through the end of December.

The Texas Legislature begins its new legislative session on January 8.

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