What to Know
- Seven members of Congress made a surprise visit to an ICE detention center in New Jersey and demanded to see fathers held there
- The political leaders were made to wait for more than an hour before they were allowed to enter
- The congressional members said some of the detained men fought back tears as they spoke about their families that had been separated
Several members of Congress demanded to see immigrants at a detention center in New Jersey in a "surprise Father's Day visit," saying the fathers inside shouldn't be separated from their children.
Seven U.S. Representatives went to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Elizabeth in what they called #FathersDayofAction.
Protesters gathered outside holding signs, including one that read: "Families Belong Together." The group chanted, "Shut it down."
About 2,000 immigrant children have been separated from their families at the border over a six-week period, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security figures.
Rep. Hakeem Jefferies, D-N.Y., tweeted that he and his colleagues were "making a surprise Father's Day visit."
The politicians banged on the door as they were made to wait more than an hour to get access to the facility, according to a tweet by Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., tweeted that ICE staff papered over a window to block the view of the representatives. At one point, local police were called, she tweeted.
Also at the detention center were Reps. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.; Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y.; Albio Sires, D-N.J.; and Frank Pallone, D-N.J.
The congressional members were allowed in at about 11 a.m.
After their visit, they described meeting several fathers who had been separated from their children. Some of the migrants were fighting back tears as they spoke, the representatives said.
"They came to this country in search of the protection and the refuge that the proud inscription on the statue of liberty promises to those fleeing terror," Nadler said. "But instead, they are being welcomed by more terror --what could be more terrorizing than having your 7-year-old taken out of your arms? -- and more cruelty."