Rep. Chellie Pingree will be in southernmost Texas on Saturday to investigate federal detention facilities where children are being held after having been separated from their families.

The congresswoman representing Maine’s 1st Congressional District is among more than 20 Democratic members of Congress who plan to make the trip to Brownsville, McAllen and Los Frenos in the Lower Rio Grande Valley region of Texas, which borders the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. They have requested access to facilities where babies and girls are being detained, but it is unclear whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement will grant their request.

“We’re hearing everything from caregivers not being allowed to hug or touch children to that they are being given sedating drugs,” Pingree told the Press Herald Wednesday afternoon. “The constitutional role of Congress is to have oversight of things like this, so we are trying to get access to some of these centers and to get a look at or speak to some of the parents and children and to see the conditions where they are being detained.”

The trip was planned before President Trump reversed course Wednesday and signed an executive order ending family separations, a move that followed public uproar over his administration’s policy.

Maine Political Report



Pingree said she is also concerned about reports that federal authorities have inadequate tracking systems for the children, making it difficult to reunite them with their families, especially if the parents have been deported while their children remain in detention in the United States.

“Most of us still have many of the same concerns we had before the president signed the executive order,” she said.

The trip is being hosted by two congressmen from the area, Filemon Vela and Vicente Gonzalez, but most of those attending are members of the House’s Democratic Women’s Working Group.