Are Migrant Children Free To Leave Detention Centers At Any Time?

Our weekly check-in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Alexandra HartJuly 24, 2019 1:00 pm,

U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess of North Texas said in an interview with MSNBC that immigrant children in shelters are free to leave at any time.” He was referring, specifically, to an old Walmart-turned-migrant shelter, Casa Padre, in Brownsville where there are no locks on the door, reduced security compared to adult centers and which holds kids up to 17 years old. They wait there before being released to a sponsor, like a parent or family member already in the U.S. 

Is that a fact? Madlin Mekelburg of the PolitiFact Texas fact-checking team based at the Austin American-Statesman has the answer.

Burgess said this when defending the detention centers in Texas after reports that minors in their care didn’t have access to soap, water, blankets or medical care.

“You know what? There’s not a lock on the door. Any child is free to leave at any time, but they don’t.” Burgess said. “You know why? Because they are well taken care of.”

Mekelburg says laws are different in every state. Casa Padre doesn’t have locks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean minors can just walk away when they’re under federal custody. 

“I imagine the security varies depending on the facilities and the age of the kids,” Mekelburg says. “And what kind – whether it’s these more concrete shelters or a family home.”

Hear how the Burgess claim scored in the player above.


Written by Marina Marquez.