Democratic leaders experience RGV detention centers firsthand

Pro-immigration organizations hold demonstrations

MCALLEN, Texas – The crisis on the border continues as lawmakers scramble to figure out an immigration plan.

Democratic leaders and members of pro-immigration organizations gathered in the Rio Grande Valley on Saturday. They all want to know when the separated families will be reunited.

So far, only 500 families have been reunified, according to Border Patrol officials.

Democratic members of Congress spoke with Border Patrol agents and still have no clear picture of when the rest of the children will be with their parents.

The congressional members held a news conference in front of the Ursula Processing Center in McAllen. They expressed their feelings after a tour of detention centers earlier in the day.

Many of the leaders described the conditions the people inside were staying in as inhumane.

“They don't have any counseling or health care. These people, these children are traumatized,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California.

"Nothing on the floors. They were small children, many of them under the age of age of 5, who were segregated from their parents and were crying," said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California.

A few hours later, buses filled with people representing the League of United Latin American Citizens and other organizations arrived to the Valley, with more than 60 traveling from San Antonio.

There was a moment when demonstrators rushed a bus that some believed was taking undocumented families out of the processing facility.

“I have grandchildren. I don't know what I would do if my grandchildren were in that building. My heart breaks to see this,” said Lydia Martinez, who traveled from San Antonio.

La Union del Pueblo Entero, or LUPE, held an event in McAllen in support of immigrant families, as well, bringing civil rights leader Dolores Huerta and Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy and a human rights activist.

Huerta and Kennedy announced they will be part of a fast for 24 days in protest of the zero-tolerance policy.

"We know some of these children will have lasting trauma," Huerta said. "We want to make it a better place. We see families that are in dire need, and this is what calls us."

Participants will fast for 24 hours before passing it off to someone else.

Kennedy said more than 40 of her family members have already signed up for the fast.

"When my father ran for president in 1968, he said peace and justice and compassion toward those who suffer (was) ... what the United States should stand for," Kennedy said.

As city leaders across the country continue learning details of the issue, they are taking action. The city of La Joya announced it will not house ICE detainees.

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