Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who toured two immigrant detention centers in Texas over the weekend, said Tuesday both were prisons whose female inmates have not seen their children for weeks.
"The women were shackled as they were brought into the facility," Speier told CNN's "New Day." "They're in prison garb. There's barbed wire all over the facility. So, that's a prison."
Speier added she and her group met with about 40 women, who said they had been detained for three weeks or as much as a month, and more than half of them had not spoken with their children in that amount of time.
"Many of their children were taken from them without their knowledge while they were in their court proceedings," Speier said. "They never had a chance to say goodbye. They don't know what the number is for their child. So, it is an absolute disaster, and it shows the level of incompetence in the way the administration rolled out this program and the inhumanity as well."
Reunifying families has to be the sole focus, Speier said.
"No child should ever be taken away from his or her parent," Speier said. "The American Academy of Pediatrics president Dr. Colleen Kraft has said over and over again, that it creates toxic stress, it's irrepairable damage, and it impacts the architecture of the brain. Do we need to know any more? This is wrong. This is the most diabolical approach that you could ever imagine. This is not America. We will not be remade in President [Donald] Trump's image."
The Trump administration has blamed Democrats for not fixing the laws on immigration, but Speier argued the president's zero-tolerance policy that has been put in place is what is really at fault.
"Six weeks ago they weren't being separated from their kids," Speier said. "They are now. And all the president has to do is revoke this policy. And if they're willing to do that, we're going to step right up and help them. But let me also point out that this effort to make these camps, is incredibly costly. And you're far better to place these families and most of them have families in the united States, place them with their family members, put ankle bracelets on them, that's $5 a day, as compared to $350 a day or $750 a day in some of these."
Speier also discussed the ongoing situation with fellow Rep. Maxine Waters', D-Calif., call for Democrats to confront Trump officials and supporters.
"I want everyone to tone down the rhetoric," she said. "I want the president to be the first. He's the leader of this country. He has to stop calling people names. He's got to respect the members of Congress both in his party and in the Democratic Party. And we've got to find ways to find and seek common ground."
Speier said she has not spoken yet with Waters, and while she will be glad to talk with her, "no one tells Maxine what to do."
"I would say to her that this does not serve our purpose, nor the American people's purpose," Speier said.
"I think everyone has the right to be able to dine if restaurants, regardless of your political affiliation. I don't want to be kicked out of a restaurant because I'm a Democrat, and Sarah Sanders shouldn't have been kicked out of the Red Hen because she's a Republican."
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