Female migrants in a Texas detention center were reportedly moved to a soccer field last week to be kept away from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as she toured the facility.
They screamed at her for help, The Intercept reported on Tuesday, but the field was too far away for her to hear them.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed for The Intercept that 62 women were moved during Nielsen’s visit on Friday to the center in Los Fresnos, saying it was for recreational purposes. Four of the women, however, told the news outlet that they were ushered onto the field and kept there for two hours despite temperatures in the high 90s.
“But the guard said we had to, that it was an order because some important officials were coming,” one woman said.
Nielsen’s schedule on Friday included visits to two ICE centers for adults and one shelter in Brownsville, Texas, for children separated from their parents as part of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy on unauthorized immigration.
Reports from inside these facilities are scant, since reporters are rarely granted access, but the news that has leaked out points to deliberate efforts to keep the outside world from knowing what’s happening inside and vice versa. Many parents, ProPublica reported this week, still have not been able to reach their children by phone. Detainees said that the detention centers don’t have internet access and guards switch off televisions when immigration is mentioned.
A judge ruled last week that the approximately 2,000 children still separated from their parents must be reunited with them by the end of the month, but it is unclear whether that process has begun. Immigration lawyers told HuffPost that authorities are telling migrant parents that they must sign voluntary deportation orders if they want to see their children again.