Progressive Dems Condemn Biden for Reopening Migrant Children Facility: 'Never Will Be Okay'

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) condemned President Joe Biden on Tuesday over the administration reopening a temporary detention facility for migrant children.

Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to insist that using the facility was "not okay" regardless of the political party controlling the government. The Biden administration has defended the move as a temporary measure needed to comply with protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay - no matter the administration or party," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "Our immigration system is built on a carceral framework. It's no accident that challenging how we approach both these issues are considered 'controversial' stances. They require reimagining our relationship to each other and challenging common assumptions we take for granted."

Ocasio-Cortez went on to say that the Biden administration has only been in power for a short time and that the "unjust immigration system will not transform in that time." She advocated for "bold reimagination" of immigration policy, suggesting that the Department of Homeland Security "shouldn't exist," for-profit detention should be made illegal and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be abolished.

This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay - no matter the administration or party. https://t.co/AEV7s7QQnB

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 23, 2021

Omar weighed in on the issue a short time later. Omar called the Biden administration's decision "callous," while noting that previous administrations had also "locked up" migrant children.

"Multiple administrations have made the callous choice to lock up thousands of children seeking refuge in the United States of America," tweeted Omar. "As long as we see people seeking a better life as 'aliens' instead of fellow human beings, our immigration system will continue to fail us."

Multiple administrations have made the callous choice to lock up thousands of children seeking refuge in the United States of America.

As long as we see people seeking a better life as “aliens” instead of fellow human beings, our immigration system will continue to fail us. https://t.co/xE1lmgSnJj

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 24, 2021

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Monday that it was reactivating a temporary "Influx Care Facility" capable of holding up to 700 minors aged 13 to 17 in Carrizo Springs, Texas. The Biden administration says that the facility is needed due to a recent surge of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border during the pandemic.

The move provoked criticism from both progressives and Republicans. Some accused the administration of hypocrisy for reopening the facility, which Democrats had previously described as a site where the detention of "kids in cages" took place under the administration of former President Donald Trump. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on the criticism during a Tuesday press briefing.

"To ensure the health and safety of these kids, HHS took steps to open an emergency facility to add capacity, where these children can be provided the care they need while they are safely—before they are safely placed with families and sponsors," Psaki said. "So, it's a temporary reopening during COVID-19. Our intention is very much to close it."

"This is not kids being kept in cages," added Psaki. "We are in a circumstance where we are not going to expel unaccompanied minors at the border. That would be inhumane."

Newsweek reached out to the White House and the offices of Omar and Ocasio-Cortez for comment.

Omar Ocasio-Cortez Biden Immigrant Migrant Children Detention
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) appear together at a press conference in Washington, D.C. on July 15, 2019. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty