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Crosscurrents

San Francisco poet reflects on his journey to an immigration detention center

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Photo provided by Custom and Border Protection to reporter on tour of detention facility in McAllen, Texas.

As thousands of migrant children wait to be reunited with their parents, images of them in detention centers continue to rock the country. Poet and activist Tongo Eisen-Martin traveled to McAllen, Texas to see what was happening for himself.

McAllen is home to the largest detention center in the United States. More than 1,100 people have been detained at this center, and hundreds of them are children. Part of the Rio Grande Valley, McAllen is also one of the poorest areas in the state. It's one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S, but it’s poverty rate was about 30 percent in 2016.

The children who are being held there were separated from parents facing prosecution for what the government considers as unlawful entrance into the U.S. — part of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy.

"They just had these looks like, 'I can't believe another human being just did this to me.'"

Eisen-Martin shares thoughts from his journey with KALW’s Jeneé Darden.

His article, “Dispatches From the Rio Grande Valley,” was recently published in El Tecolote.