North Texas

Congressman Confronted by Constituents Over Stance on Children Separated from Parents at U.S.-Mexico Border

"What are you going to do for your citizens who are afraid for these babies?"

A North Texas Congressman was confronted by his constituents at a town hall he hosted Monday night.

U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (R, TX-26) hosted a town hall at Denton High School, as he has done on a regular basis.

Several constituents confronted Burgess over his stance on undocumented children being separated from their parents who will face prosecution for entering the U.S. illegally.

Children, mothers and fathers are being kept in chain link cage-like structures inside the country’s largest immigration detention center as part of the Trump administration's 'zero tolerance policy' on illegal border crossings.

It is a policy that is the object of a growing bipartisan outcry.

Burgess spoke with NBC 5 prior to the town hall, saying people who do not come to the U.S. legally will face consequences, 'pretty harsh consequences' as we've seen in the past couple of weeks.

The auditorium at the high school filled up quickly. Organizers had to do a coin toss to help select 22 people to speak because so many others wanted an opportunity to address Burgess.

"They are not U.S. citizens but they are human beings and we're scared for them," Gretchen Veling of Keller said. "What are you going to do for these babies and what are you going to do for your citizens who are afraid for these babies?"

Veling received a standing ovation from many in the audience when she told Burgess she believed her representatives would take the president to task on issues.

"I appreciate you're critical of the leadership in this country, but where in the hell is the leadership in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador," Burgess asked before being booed and shouted down by some in the audience.

NBC 5 asked the congressman several times whether he supported the policy of separating children from their parents.

"No one supports separating children, but no one supports people coming in without the value of having the law behind them," he responded. "There are proper ways to do it. People understand that."

When asked how he feels seeing pictures of children alone in shelters, Burgess said, "I would never place a child on top of a train and say 'travel 500 miles and I hope things work out for you.' That's what's been wrong in this equation."

Burgess was referring to the infamous freight train known as 'La Bestia' [The Beast] that travels through Central America into Mexico and one that is used by undocumented migrants as they journey North.

Burgess said he is flying back to Washington D.C. on Tuesday morning and feels confident one of two bills being introduced in Congress this week will resolve the situation on the border.

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