Ro Khanna Flags Border Children 'Rights Violations' as Nancy Pelosi Puts Blame on Trump

Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) criticized current conditions faced by migrant children held at detention centers, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) shifted the blame to former President Donald Trump's controversial immigration policies.

In a Sunday interview on MSNBC's This Week With Joshua Johnson, Khanna said the conditions in which unaccompanied minors are held are "morally unacceptable."

"I just read a report that some of the children don't have food, they aren't being able to shower, they're being held for more than 72 hours without going to Office of Refugee Resettlement, they aren't being given access to lawyers," Khanna said.

"These are human rights violations. We need to expedite and make sure they're allowed to apply for asylum, we need to expedite their reunification with families, and put them in a place that isn't behind bars as unaccompanied minors and at least has food and proper shelter."

As the Department of Health and Human Services considers using NASA's Moffett Field—located in Khanna's district—as a temporary detention space for children, the congressman said that while officials contacted him at that regard, he prefers "a reunification with the family and in the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is not as much of a detention."

Khanna said he told officials they needed to "meet a very high standard" to care for the children if Moffett Field was to be used. He also urged Congress to "fund the refugee resettlement places" to ensure children have access to "proper care" as they apply for asylum.

It is morally wrong for unaccompanied children not to have adequate food, places to shower, or legal aid. We need to work to unite them with family already in the US, expedite their asylum applications, & house them in humane places through the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) March 15, 2021

Also on Sunday, Pelosi appeared on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos to call the situation of unaccompanied minors at the border a "humanitarian challenge."

"What the administration has inherited is a broken system at the border, and they are working to correct that in the children's interest," Pelosi said, as she praised Biden for sending the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide assistance.

"So this, again, is a transition from what was wrong before to what's right," she added.

President Joe Biden's campaign promises included a compassion-based immigration policy, signaling a departure from Trump's crackdown at the border, which controversially saw family separations and children behind bars.

However, the Biden Administration's decision to continue holding unaccompanied minors in detention facilities—long criticized as carceral establishments with inadequate care for children—has elicited condemnation from progressive Democrats.

Republicans, on their end, have attacked Biden for what they perceive to be weakened border enforcement that encourages illegal immigration.

Since Biden took office, the number of migrants reaching the U.S.-Mexico border has significantly increased.

According to a report by CBS News, the number of unaccompanied minors in Customs and Border Patrol custody rose to 4,200 as of Sunday.

Newsweek has asked the White House and Trump for comment.

Rep. Ro Khanna attends news conference
Rep. Ro Khanna (R-CA) participates in a news conference to introduce the Ending Secrecy About Workplace Sexual Harassment Act in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center December 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. Khanna has said migrant children faced "human rights violations" in detention centers. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images