ICE protests intensify, Congressman denied access to Bay Area shelter for immigrant children

PLEASANT HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- Cameras were rolling when Congressman Jeff Denham rang the bell at a shelter for immigrant children in Pleasant Hill. Nobody opened the door, but someone from the facility let Rep. Denham know he would not be able to go inside.

Denham can be heard on camera saying, "We confirmed with both HHS and let our counterparts at the White House know that we were coming."

The man on camera from the facility, who appeared to be security, responded, "What I've been told by them is that they had no prior knowledge."

Denham spoke to ABC7 News by phone from his district in Modesto.

"I want transparency. This is a federally funded facility," he said.

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The facility, run by the non-profit Southwest Key program, is housing 25 teenage immigrants. Two girls at the shelter have been separated from their parents.

Denham says his office gave the facility a week's notice and that he had an appointment to visit. "If you've got nothing to hide, I'd think you would want not only members of Congress to see, who are actually trying to write new laws to fix the situation, but I'd think you'd want the media to know as well. We want to make sure safety comes first for these kids."

Denham says he could hear kids through the door, but is eager to see the inside of the facility, which on average houses the children for 47 days. "Their living conditions are critical to how the rest of the world views the United States."

Denham, a Republican, is running for re-election in an increasingly democratic part of the Central Valley. He says he wants Congress to work to keep families together at the border.

A group of protesters near the ICE headquarters in San Francisco have the same goal. They did not want to appear on camera but said that they plan on occupying the space near the headquarters "indefinitely" with the aspiration to "abolish ICE."

For more on the ongoing border crisis, visit this page.
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