Standing outside a federal immigration detention facility in Texas housing children separated from their families, Mayor Eric Garcetti said today President Donald Trump's reversal of a policy removing minors from their parents at the Mexican border was insufficient and he encouraged the public to keep pushing for more legislative action.
Speaking to reporters in front of the facility in Tornillo, Texas,with a bipartisan group of American mayors, Garcetti said there are still more than 2,000 children separated from their parents after being suspected of illegally crossing the border with Mexico. At least 100 children are being housed in the Los Angeles area, according to reports.
"We don't know any information about them. We have to find out from activists instead of from the government, and it is time for our federal partners to join with us, because America's mayors are ready to roll up our sleeves, to unify families and most importantly, to pass long serving and long standing comprehensive solutions to our broken immigration system," Garcetti said. "Children are not poker chips, they are people. And we demand that Washington fix the mess that it has created."
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Garcetti and the contingent of mayors had organized the trip to Texas through the U.S. Conference of Mayors before Trump announced a reversal of the family separation policy on Wednesday, but the mayors followed through with the trip, focusing some of their comments at a news conference on reunifying families while calling for further changes to Trump's immigration policies.
"We need to keep this pressure up. And we need Congress to do its job now," Garcetti said. "We need legislation that will resolve this and keep families together. And that's just the first step. Then live up to your word on Dreamers, then go to comprehensive immigration reform. That is my message to my constituents. Don't let up."
Trump said Wednesday he was ending the highly criticized policy of separating children and their parents at the Mexican border when the parents are suspected of entering the country illegally.
Trump's new order requires immigrant families be detained together when they are caught entering the country illegally, although some of the details on how long they could be held were unclear. The order comes after the administration had faced bipartisan pressure to end the separation policy.
When announcing the change during a news conference at the White House, Trump said, "We are very strong at the border. We're very strong on security, we want security for our country. Republicans want security and insist on security for our country. And we will have that. At the same time we have compassion, we want to keep families together."
Following his remarks, Garcetti was expected to join Texas state Senator and former NALEO President Sylvia Garcia, Colorado Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, former Congressman and former NALEO President Ed Pastor, Florida state Sen. Rene Garcia and Texas conservative business leader and NALEO Educational Fund Executive Director Arturo Vargas in Phoenix for a panel discussion on Latino political participation in the 2018 elections and beyond. The panel will be moderated by Arizona Republic senior reporter Daniel Gonzalez.
On Thursday evening, Garcetti plans to attend and speak at a fundraiser in support of Greg Stanton for Congress and will speak at an event in support of the Maricopa County Democratic Party. Stanton was mayor of Phoenix until May.
"While Washington sends tweets, mayors pave streets. Electing Greg Stanton to Congress isn't just about flipping the House, it's about sending a mayor to Washington who can teach them something about getting things done," Garcetti said. "My message to Maricopa County Democrats is that local races and races up and down the ballot are as critical to people's daily lives as House seats, and Democrats cannot afford to write off any campaign."