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NM mayors, senators to visit Texas border camp

SANTA FE, N.M. — The mayors of Santa Fe and Albuquerque will be in Tornillo, Texas, today followed by a Friday visit from U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall as they demand a permanent end to the Trump administration policy of separating immigrant families and as they demand transparency in the administration’s alternative housing plan.

The politicians, all Democrats, planned their visits earlier this week and intend to continue with their travel despite President Trump’s Wednesday announcement that he signed an executive order halting his administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents when they are detained after illegally crossing the U.S. border.

“I will be traveling to the border this week to demand answers from the administration about the conditions that defenseless children have been held under, and about how the administration plans to reunify families. We must not consider this matter settled until every last child is returned to their mothers and fathers, and until we find a humane path forward for these families,” Udall said in a statement Wednesday evening.

He and Heinrich will visit the site of the temporary tent city for immigrant children and will visit the port of entry. On Friday evening they will attend a Keep Families Together community event in Las Cruces, according to their spokespeople.

“At the root of all of this, we need to reaffirm the humanity of immigrants and refugees – mothers, fathers, and children who are overwhelmingly hardworking people seeking to come to America because of the promise our nation represents,” Heinrich said in a statement.

Their visit follows a U.S. Conference of Mayors event to call for the end of the family separation policy at the Tornillo Port of Entry on Thursday morning.

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and his wife Elizabeth Kistin Keller plan to attend, they announced on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Webber, Keller and Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima signed a letter addressed to Udall, urging Congress to take action.

“We are writing to add our voices to the outrage at the inhuman, un-American policy of the Trump administration that is deliberately tearing immigrant children from the arms of their parents. We strongly support efforts in Congress to stop this senseless policy,” they wrote.

The mayors say that the Trump administration’s policy seems to be “as heartless as possible as often as possible” and that democracy and democratic ideas are being tested. They vowed to fight back.

“As New Mexico mayors we live the reality – not the politics – of life along the border,” the mayors wrote. “We know firsthand the overwhelming benefits that come with opening our arms to the world, tearing down barriers between us, and embracing what makes us different. We know the difference between smart border policy and racist rhetoric.”