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The Latest: Congressman says kids at center get good care

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Associated Press
MCALLEN, Texas

The Latest on the separation of immigrant children from their parents following President Donald Trump’s order allowing them to remain with their parents (all times local):

6:10 p.m.

Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall is returning from a visit to the Texas border saying that several hundred immigrant children detained in a center there are getting good care.

Marshall traveled Saturday to the El Paso area as part of a bipartisan congressional group to meet with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials and to tour a center holding 400 young immigrants near the Tornillo port of entry. The immigrants are mostly teenage boys and housed in tent-like structures.

The Kansas Republican spent 90 minutes at the center and described it as a camp providing good food and medical care. He said he played soccer with some of the children.

He said 26 children were separated from their parents during a recent crackdown on illegal border crossings.

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5:25 p.m.

Protesters have confronted Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi at a showing of a documentary about children’s TV host Fred Rogers, and they questioned the Republican’s stands on immigration and health care.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Bondi received a police escort Friday when several members of Organize Florida confronted her as she left a Tampa theater after seeing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” about Mr. Rogers. The demonstrators questioned Florida joining a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act and Bondi’s general support of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

This is at least the third time a Republican official has been confronted at a public place in recent days over the president’s immigration policy that separated parents entering the country illegally at the Mexican border from their children. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders left restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area after facing friction there.

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4:05 p.m.

During a rally at Texas Democratic Party convention in Fort Worth, people carried signs that read “Family rights are human rights” and “Reunite the families.”

The Dallas Morning News reports that speakers at the rally Saturday urged the crowd to make their voices heard in November. The crowd chanted “Families belong together” and “No baby jails!”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez says she teared up when she heard audio of children crying in detention families. She says, “No child should ever have to cry like that for something that we can avoid.”

Houston Rep. Ana Hernandez became an unauthorized immigrant in the country as a child when her family overstayed their visas. She says she can’t imagine being torn from her mother’s arms. She says, “That’s not the America that we know. That is not what we stand for.”

Hernandez, who became a citizen at 18, urged fellow Democrats to speak up for immigrant families.

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2:25 p.m.

A group of immigrant rights protesters has blocked a bus carrying immigrant children outside a U.S.-Mexico border processing facility.

Local and state police were called in Saturday to help disperse the crowd and enable the bus to proceed.

The bus eventually left the area. Border patrol agents did not say where it was headed.

The incident occurred amid an uproar over the Trump administration’s practice of separating immigrant families caught on the southwest border. President Donald Trump signed an order this week to keep families detained together during immigration proceedings.

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2:10 p.m.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and four of the state’s Democratic House members are touring a detention center where about 100 immigrant children taken from their parents are being held.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told reporters Saturday in Homestead, Florida, that she and Nelson should have been allowed access on Tuesday when they first went to the facility but were turned away. She said being told to come back four days later prevented them as members of Congress from performing their duty to oversee government operations. She said at most they should have been kept out for a few hours.

Rep. Darren Soto said the decision by the facility’s administrators to deny Nelson and Wasserman Schultz access earlier made him wonder what they were hiding.

Those three plus Reps. Frederica Wilson and Ted Deutch took 50 red, white and blue balloons with them inside. Wilson said the balloons were to show the children that the American people care about them.

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12:30 p.m.

An attorney in Texas has been trying to reunite parents at an immigration detention facility with their children after U.S. authorities separated them on the southwest border.

Lawyer Jodi Goodwin said Saturday that another attorney identified the parents at criminal court hearings in McAllen, Texas.

She has been reaching out to the parents at a detention facility in Port Isabel, Texas, to collect information about their cases and their children.

She says she has been inundated with requests for help from the parents and the list is still growing. She says she doesn’t know how many parents she has connected with so far.

She says Immigration and Customs Enforcement has asked her for a list of names to assist in the process.

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11:55 a.m.

More than two dozen Democratic U.S. House members are touring immigration facilities for a firsthand look at the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

Speaking to reporters Saturday after visiting a Customs and Border Protection processing facility in the U.S-Mexico border city of McAllen, they described seeing children sleeping behind bars, on concrete floors and under emergency “mylar” heat-resistant blanks.

California Congressman Jackie Speier says, “It is, for all intents and purposes, a prison.”

More than 2,300 children were taken from their families in recent weeks under a Trump administration “zero tolerance” policy in which people entering the U.S. illegally face being prosecuted. Parents and children were being detained separately. But after public outcry, President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered that they be brought back together.

The Democrats said they haven’t seen a coherent system for reuniting parents and children. They also said that even when parents and children aren’t separated, they’re often housed in adjacent cells that keep them apart.

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11:15 p.m.

Protests and rallies focused around the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border are scheduled this weekend, while more than two dozen congressional Democrats plan to visit detention facilities in Texas.

More than 2,300 children were taken from their families in recent weeks under a Trump administration “zero tolerance” policy in which people entering the U.S. illegally face being prosecuted. Parents and children were being detained separately. But after public outcry, President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered that they be brought back together.

Confusion has ensued, with parents left searching for their children.

Events planned include a rally Saturday in Fort Worth, where the Texas Democratic Convention is being held, and a protest in Homestead, Florida.

The Democratic lawmakers plan to visit detention facilities Saturday in McAllen and Los Fresnos.

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See AP’s complete coverage of the debate over the Trump administration’s policy of family separation at the border: https://apnews.com/tag/Immigration

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