LULAC Calls for Investigation Into Cover-Up of Refugee Children Held 39 Hours in Vans

Nation’s Oldest & Largest Civil Rights Organization Says Their Parents Were Being Detained by ICE

Washington, DC - Dozens of children ages 5 to 12 years old were forced to remain inside vans for an entire day-and-a-half last summer in South Texas during an incident that only now is coming to light and which government officials say was a processing delay.

“This is absolutely one of the clearest examples of the Administration’s botched family separation policy which we have ever witnessed,” says Domingo Garcia, National President. “To learn now, ten months later, what these innocent children had to endure sounds more like a cover up or an attempt to excuse criminal misconduct by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) workers who are blaming the entire matter on an administrative backlog,” he added.

The three-dozen youngsters were held 6-8 per vehicle, inside sealed vans equipped with metal security panels over the windows with only small holes through which they could see outside of the vehicles. The vans were positioned on a parking lot outside at the Port Isabel Detention Center in the hot Texas summer.

“LULAC wants an immediate investigation be demanded by U.S. Congressman Filemon Vela (D-TX) in whose district this child abuse occurred,” said Domingo Garcia. “Also, we call upon Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to stand with us on this issue. This is not about the polemics of politics involving the border. It is plain and simple that Americans do not stand idly by silently when innocent children are being mistreated in such an inhumane way, especially within our own borders,” he added.

LULAC is also reviewing whether a criminal complaint can be filed with the District Attorney of Cameron County, Texas in whose jurisdiction the forced incarceration of minors took place. Also, LULAC wants to determine why the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services did not intervene to take custody of the children once they became away of the matter.

“As a community and as a country we failed these boys and girls but LULAC won’t fail getting those responsible from being brought to justice,” said Garcia.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit

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