Miami Mayor Francis Suarez joined other mayors from across the country during a trip to the Southwest border of the United States on Thursday, visiting a Tornillo, Texas, detention center where children who were separated from their families are being housed.
Organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Suarez flew into El Paso Wednesday night and hopped on a bus to Tornillo early Thursday morning. The trip was scheduled before President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday altering a "zero tolerance" policy he implemented in late April in which children are separated from parents who are taken into custody after entering the country illegally.
"I feel like I'm going to be traumatized," Suarez told Miami Herald news partner WLRN before his departure. "Being a father of two, and I just had a baby girl two months ago, the notion of being separated from my children because I'm seeking freedom in a country full of immigrants is a little shocking to my conscience."
The president's decision to separate children from their parents — and the pictures and audio of crying children that resulted from it — sparked worldwide condemnation this week, with even Pope Francis coming out against the measure. Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged that about 2,000 unaccompanied minors are currently in shelter as part of the "unaccompanied alien children program," including nearly 1,200 at a shelter in Homestead. Those figures includes minors who entered the country without adults and those separated from parents.
Suarez said he expects to visit the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children when he returns.