PHOENIX — Congressman Greg Stanton spent an hour at an emergency child care facility in Phoenix Friday.
It's where at least a dozen children, ranging in age from infants to five years old, were taken after immigration authorities separated them from their families.
Stanton sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which next week will hold a hearing to learn more about the Trump administration's family separation policy.
"I really respect the non-profit and the good work they do," Stanton said. "My issue as a member of Congress is to hold his administration accountable [and] ensuring they are not inappropriately separating children from their parents or other family units."
In 2018, ICE agents routinely separated children from their families as a strategy to deter immigrants from coming to the United States. The practice was widely criticized.
ICE stopped separating children from parents, but it never completely ended the practice. Children who arrive at the border with relatives other than their biological parents are separated. Stanton learned Friday some of the children at the facility he visited were taken from other family members.
The need to place immigrant children in care facilities is growing in Phoenix, and that concerns Stanton who worries the practice of separating children from their parents may be continuing.
"We learned that some of the parents may be in ICE custody and separated from their children who were brought to this facility and we have a lot of questions about that," he said.
The center caring for the children has a capacity of three dozen. Stanton thinks that is not going to be big enough, and that the Valley will see an expansion of services for tender-aged children. There are also plans underway to establish a foster care network in Phoenix to accommodate the anticipated numbers of older children and teenagers who ICE says were unaccompanied when they crossed into the United States.
"Look I have some very tough questions to ask," Stanton says about the upcoming hearing. He hopes Customs and Border Protection officials will have the answers to those questions.