Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Emergency Contact: Dispatches from the Tornillo Children’s Detention Camp

in Immigration/Politics by

I. A Message from Snopes

Claim: The Trump administration is building “tent cities” to house minor immigrants.

Rating: Mixture

What’s True: Multiple news outlets have confirmed HHS’s plans to build tent cities.

What’s False: They have not yet been constructed; the practice is not new.

II. A Message from the Department of Health and Human Services

1. Unaccompanied Alien Children Frequently Asked Questions

In recent days, there has been a great deal of misinformation about the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) Program. This misinformation and the intentional perpetuation of it is a disservice to the hundreds of caseworkers and care providers who are deeply committed to the quality care and safe and speedy placement of the children with appropriate sponsors.

2. Policy Guide

Unaccompanied alien children apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration officials are transferred to the care and custody of Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The ORR promptly places an unaccompanied child in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child. The ORR Policy Guide for Alien Children Entering the United States Unaccompanied describes policies for the placement, timely release and care of unaccompanied alien children in ORR custody. It is a living document that may be updated as new policies are incorporated into the program or current policies are modified.

3. Updated Terms

Family Reunification – Family reunification is an older term used in the Flores Settlement Agreement to refer to the process of releasing an unaccompanied alien child to the care of a parent, relative or other sponsor.

Influx – An increase in the number of unaccompanied alien children that exceeds the standard capabilities of responsible Federal departments and agencies to process and transport them timely and/or to shelter them with existing resources.

Influx Care Facility – A type of care provider facility that is opened to provide temporary emergency shelter and services for unaccompanied alien children during an influx or emergency. Influx care facilities may be opened on federally owned or leased properties, in which case, the facility would not be subject to State or local licensing standards; or, at facilities otherwise exempted by the State licensing authority.

4. Updated Timeline

The Tornillo Facility was confirmed as a site on June 14th, 2018 and within 24 hours 100 minors were on location. The facility doubled in size from June 18th to June 19th 2018. The facility was previously contracted to operate until the end of August 2018. The contract initially was extended until the end of September 2018. More than 1300 children were housed at the facility at the end of September. The contract has been renewed until December 31st, 2018, when the contract may be extended upon further review.

III. A Message from the Guardian and the New York Times

The Tornillo Temporary Minor Immigration
Detention Facility operates like a small pop-up city.

Authorities say it was meant to be
small and temporary. Hidden from public

view on the ground, its proliferation clearly visible
from the air. Kept on a remote patch

of federal land surrounded by scrub and pecan farms,
children are being brought by the busload.

Hundreds of children are being shipped from shelters
across the country to Tornillo each week.

The moves are carried out at night to prevent
escape attempts. The children’s emergency

contact information, etched in pen
on their belts. Since June, dozens of people

who applied to have detained children released
into their custody have been arrested by ICE.

IV. A Message from Trump Supporters


It’s not a good situation, but we have to
uphold our laws. There has to be

checks and balances. It seems like
this is being done humanely.


I think people need to stop
constantly bringing up the poor
children. The poor children.

Quit trying to make us feel
teary eyed for the children.


When I was a kid, 16 years old,
I got fined for swimming in a lake

’cause I didn’t follow the rules.
These people that we have coming

across the border illegally are breaking
the rules. I have no feelings for them at all.

V. A Message from the 1,300 Children Detained in Tornillo









Texas detention center swells fivefold with migrant children [The Guardian]
Migrant children moved under cover of darkness to Texas tent city [The New York Times]
Unaccompanied alien children frequently asked questions [Office of Refugee Resettlement]

Abigail Carl-Klassen has been published in ZYZZYVA, Cimarron Review, Guernica, Aster(ix) and Post Road. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets 2015. She earned an MFA from the University of Texas El Paso’s Bilingual Creative Writing Program and taught at El Paso Community College and the University of Texas El Paso.

Image via the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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