ELIZABETH — Several members of Congress, including three from New Jersey, made a "surprise" visit to an ICE Detention Center on Sunday.

Reps Bill Pascrell Jr., Frank Pallone and Albio Sires made the visit as stories spread about children being torn from their parents' arms, and parents not being able to find where their kids have gone.

Nearly 2,000 children have been taken from their parents since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the policy, which directs Homeland Security officials to refer all cases of illegal entry into the United States for prosecution. Church groups and human rights advocates have sharply criticized the policy, calling it inhumane.

Pascrell said in a statement that the congressional delegation was forced to wait over two hours to be allowed inside, and police were called. After being allowed inside, the ninth district Democrat said what he saw was "heartbreaking."

He said that Sessions and President Donald Trump are not following laws. "There are no laws requiring families to be ripped apart. Trump claims Democrats are to blame for families being broken up. That is a lie.

"Parents are being held prisoner inside, literally crying to us to be reunited with their families. These are people trying to escape extreme violence and poverty. What is happening to them is despicable. It is a sin," Pascrell said.

On his Facebook page, Pallone posted video of himself telling the story of families at the center that were separated from children.

"President Trump has no shame," Pallone wrote.

Sires said on his Facebook page he was "appalled" at what he saw during the visit.

"Not only were we denied entrance for 2 hours, the fathers we met are deeply suffering. Many of them have no idea where their kids are or when they will see them again. This cannot be what our country stands for. House Republicans cannot pretend this isn’t happening. As I return to Washington, my colleagues and I must put an end these practices."

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ


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