A Maine Democratic candidate for Senate was taken into police custody on Friday trying to deliver supplies to a detention center for immigrant children in McAllen, Texas.
Zak Ringelstein, a former public school teacher challenging Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) in the November election, was charged with criminal trespass after he refused to leave the detention facility premises. His campaign team said they expected police to release him on bail later Friday.
Ringelstein announced Tuesday that he would travel to Texas to donate water, food, blankets, books and toys to detained migrant children who were separated from their parents at the border.
In a Facebook live broadcast on Friday, Ringelstein is seen repeatedly requesting access to the facility to deliver the supplies. Officers denied his requests, ordered him to leave and arrested him.
“I refuse, I refuse, I refuse to stand by as you imprison children ... It is inhumane, it is wrong, it is a sickness,” Ringelstein told an officer. “I’m asking to visit the facility to deliver these toys and to get a detailed explanation of when our children will be reunited.”
An officer told Ringelstein he could donate the items through organizations the facility has been working with.
Ringelstein is not the first public figure to be denied access to an immigration detention facility. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) both were turned away on Tuesday from a South Florida facility that was holding migrant children.
“I think what they’re doing is a cover-up for the president,” Nelson said.
Federal officials have detained more than 2,300 children under a zero tolerance immigration crackdown, and a total of 11,786 children under 18 are in detention centers.
Ringelstein faces an uphill challenge in his Senate race. Incumbent King is “in good shape for re-election,” according to RealClearPolitics.