The buildings, located in Carrizo Springs, Texas, reopened on Monday as dozens of teenagers boarded vans to go there, according to the Washington Post. It is reactivated to contain up to 700 teenagers aged 13-17 as the coronavirus pandemic has urged other facilities to limit their capacity.
"This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay - no matter the administration or party," Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on social media. "Our immigration system is built on a carceral framework. It’s no accident that challenging how we approach both these issues are considered 'controversial' stances. They require reimagining our relationship to each other and challenging common assumptions we take for granted."
"It’s only 2 [months] into this admin & our fraught, unjust immigration system will not transform in that time," she added. "That’s why bold reimagination is so [important]. [The Department of Homeland Security] shouldn’t exist, agencies should be reorganized, ICE gotta go, ban for-profit detention, create climate refugee status & more."
The same facility was the stage for demonstrations against former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies when it opened in the summer of 2019. Despite the criticism, the Trump administration sided with opening the facility, Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber said children placed at the facility receive good care, something that has not changed between administrations. Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar issued a similar denunciation of the policy decision, calling it "callous."
"Multiple administrations have made the callous choice to lock up thousands of children seeking refuge in the United States of America," the Minnesota lawmaker said. "As long as we see people seeking a better life as 'aliens' instead of fellow human beings, our immigration system will continue to fail us."
The news surfaced further questions about how President Biden would handle an awaited penetration of unaccompanied children at the southern border.
Besides denouncing "kids in cages" under Trump, Biden also reportedly told lawmakers in 2019 that he would end child migrant detention. It appeared as though with this new facility that the administration was continuing the practice of detaining children even after rescinding a Trump-era policy that led to family separation.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki similarly told Fox News on Tuesday that the administration's policy was focused on not expelling unaccompanied children. "The process, how it works, is that Customs and Border control continue to transfer unaccompanied children to the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement," she said.