Arizona Speaker denied access to BP facility housing unaccompanied children

On Wednesday, Arizona Speaker of the House Andy Tobin and Majority Whip Rick Gray were denied access to the Nogales facility where about 750 unaccompanied alien children are being held. The Speaker and Majority Whip drove down to inspect the facility Wednesday, June 11, 2014, but CBP denied them access.

CBP told men that they needed to give the agency a 72-hour notice, according to a statement released by the Speaker. Tobin emphasized that Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who is a Republican establishment candidate running for governor, was granted access to the facility Wednesday morning.

“I understand what CBP [Customs and Border Protection] is up against, but as the Speaker of the House and member of the Arizona Legislature, it is important to verify how these children are being treated,” said Speaker Tobin. “My fellow legislators want to know, and denying me access clearly demonstrates what is wrong with Washington.”

If Arizona had attempted a similar “inhumane stunt” the national outcry would have been deafening, added Tobin.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bused the children from Texas to Arizona, and CBP is housing them in the Nogales facility until other accommodations become available. The CPB facility has been described as a refurbished warehouse with no indoor plumbing.

Speaker and Majority Whip met with Nogales Mayor Arthur Garino of Nogales
Speaker and Majority Whip met with Nogales Mayor Arthur Garino of Nogales

“This humanitarian crisis is a direct result of the federal government’s failure to secure the border and enforce our laws,” said Tobin, who is running for Congress. “Not allowing us to inspect the facility does not serve the children held there or the citizens of Arizona. It only serves Washington.”

Tobin’s challenger in the Republican Primary for CD1, Adam Kwasman said, “The Federal government denying State officials access to their facilities in unacceptable. That is why we need to send proven fighters to Washington to stand up against amnesty. I’ve been endorsed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and I will immediately call for hearings into why Barack Obama insists on subverting the will of the concerned citizens of Arizona.”

Katie Pavlich of FOX News, and contributor to Townhall.com, reports that Rev. Al Sharpton’s counterpart, Rev. Jarrett Maupin was granted access. “Maupin detailed his tour of the Nogales facility to radio host Jon Justice of the Jon Justice Show yesterday and described the inside access he was granted to detention and processing areas. He went on the tour with a delegation of civil rights activists,” according to Pavlich’s report.

Maupin told Justice, a popular radio show host on 104.1 KQTH, “I saw it all. I was inside of the warehouse which is the detention holding area. We were inside of that facility.” Justice broke the story of the Placement Center in Nogales.

Victor L. Brabble, director of the Arizona Joint Information Center for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection denied the AZDI’s request for access in an email on June 6, 2014. He wrote, “Due to privacy concerns of the minors, media access is not being granted to the Nogales Placement center at this time. Any other questions will have to be answered by DHS.”

The Speaker and Majority Whip met with Nogales Mayor Arthur Garino of Nogales, who told them that showers and toilet facilities were available as well as a medical team and others resources, including phones and an outside covered play area.

Nevertheless, the speaker said that the lack of transparency after trying to secretly leave the children at bus station in Phoenix and Tucson is absolutely unacceptable. “We all want answers and we want to verify what we’re being told.”

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