Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley refused entry to immigration center in - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley refused entry to immigration center in Texas

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Sen. Jeff Merkley (Facebook) Sen. Jeff Merkley (Facebook)

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley threw himself into the middle of the nation’s heated immigration debate this weekend, showing up at an immigration facility in Brownsville, Texas and asking to go inside.

Merkley, a Democrat, posted a video of his effort to his Facebook page Sunday, explaining that he made the trip after his office’s attempt to schedule a tour of the former Walmart was declined.

In the video, which has amassed more than one million views, Merkley asks if he can enter the building and is refused entry. Police are then called and tell him to leave.

Merkley says his video was meant to draw attention to families being separated at the border.

He says he is concerned about a new policy by the Trump administration to criminally prosecute anyone caught illegally crossing the border. It could increase the number of families separated, even those seeking asylum, he says.

Merkley said Monday he thought the facility might let him in because he is a U.S senator, to show him that the facility has nothing to hide.

“But apparently, they do have something to hide,” Merkley said. “They do not want the American public to know what’s going on.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the new policy last month, saying that “if you’re smuggling a child, we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.”

Merkley acknowledges he was told in advance that he would not be allowed into the facility.  He says he hopes to hold congressional hearings on the matter. 

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