U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, refused to tour the Border Patrol Nogales Placement Center, where federal officials are holding hundreds of children from Central America, on Monday because the rest of his group wasn’t allowed in.
Grijalva said the in-depth tour had been preapproved last week for himself, along with congressional staffers from Rep. Ron Barber’s office and state faith leaders, but when they showed up, officials told him only he and the staff could enter.
For Grijalva, that wasn’t acceptable, he said. “The purpose was for the media and general public to get an impression from the group who is interested in the needs of the children rather than just from me.”
In a written statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said the agency has a responsibility to protect the privacy and identity of people in its custody. "All persons requesting to visit a CBP facility must demonstrate a clear, concise purpose for requiring access and must submit their request in advance for approval."
Grijalva said having the group of religious leaders tour the placement center was the purpose of the visit.
“It helps Border Patrol and ICE do their job by having the level of community support and confidence that they are open enough to allow people to see what’s going on and help correct any situations found to be not in best interest of those kids,” he said.
He said he will sort it out when he returns to Washington today.
More than a week ago, Customs and Border Protection started to transfer to Nogales children who crossed the border without parents or legal guardians through south Texas because they lacked space to process them there.