July 10, 2018 In The News, Media

Norcross visits detained immigrant kids in N.J. Thankfully, they weren’t in chain-link fencing

Video chats on Skype from a Camden detention center has been the only lifeline for a child separated from his family as he tried to cross the border into the United States.

Rep. Donald Norcross, D, 1st, said he wasn’t sure what to expect of the conditions for children being held in New Jersey after they were separate from their families as a result of stepped up border enforcement by the Trump administration.

The federal government wouldn’t let him in for the past two weeks.

He had tried to visit a site run by the Center for Family Services with no success. When he finally got in Monday, he immediately reported what he saw.

“I wanted to make sure these kids were being held in an appropriate manner, one that is worthy of being called an American system,” Norcross said during an afternoon news conference from the downtown Camden headquarters of the center. “After holding us back for two weeks, they never showed up.”

Norcross said representatives from the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have required him to complete a request form for his visit which took two weeks to process. Officials told him they needed to be present for the visit, but did not show up for his tour today after approving his visit, he said.

“They’re hiding something,” Norcross said his thoughts were when he was being barred from visitation. “They’re hiding a bad inhumane policy about how to treat children in this great country of ours.”

Norcross helped introduce the Restoring Oversight for Members of Congress Act, which would prevent visitation delays and undue obstacles for members who seek access to facilities run by government agencies like HHS.

Norcross said the migrant child he saw Monday was in good spirits and well cared for. He said his conditions seemed like a “boarding home.”

“The Trump Administration’s policy to inhumanely detain immigrant kids is repulsive,” Norcross said. Thankfully, this wasn’t a warehouse with chain-linked fencing like we saw on television, but the fact that was even a possibility is horrible. While I’m relieved the separated children in South Jersey are in good hands, they never should have ended up in this situation in the first place.”

Two other children who were separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration policy and being held in Camden have already been reunited with their parents, Norcross and center officials said. The remaining child has been in contact with his father through phone and video chats, Norcross said.

It was not immediately reported how soon he will be reunited with his parents, officials said.

Norcross also was presented with art work made by some of the migrant children being housed in Camden.

Read more at NJ.com.