Children Held by Border Patrol in Horrible Conditions

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InAlienableDaily Dispatch

June 25, 2019

On Thursday, the Associated Press ran a report about conditions in a Border Patrol detention facility in Clint, Texas, near El Paso, where 300 children were being held. The report came from the testimony of lawyers who were visiting the facility as part of a review connected to defending the Flores Settlement agreement. What they saw was children who had not bathed in weeks, young children without diapers, teenagers in custody being asked to care for babies, and inadequate food.  One of the attorneys interviewed by the Associated Press also appeared on the PBS Newshour. This is how she described the facility conditions.

Basically, what we saw are dirty children who are malnourished, who are being severely neglected. They are being kept in inhumane conditions. They are essentially being warehoused, as many as 300 children in a cell, with almost no adult supervision.

We have children caring for other young children. For example, we saw a little boy in diapers — or he had no diapers on. He should have had a diaper on. He was 2 years old. And when I was asked why he didn't have diapers on, I was told he didn't need it.

He immediately urinated. And he was in the care of another child. Children cannot take care of children, and yet that's how they are trying to run this facility. The children are hardly being fed anything nutritious, and they are being medically neglected.

We're seeing a flu outbreak, and we're also seeing a lice infestation. It is — we have children sleeping on the floor. It's the worst conditions I have ever witnessed in several years of doing these inspections.

The full video interview and transcript are . There were fifteen children with the flu inside this facility. Some had been held for more than three weeks here. Federal guidelines only allow children to held in border patrol facilities for 72 hours before being released or transferred to Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Most of the children had arrived with family members and had been separated at the border. Almost all have family in the United States. There is no reason to detain them at all. The government, however, did not release them following news reports. They moved them. From :

The U.S. government has removed most of the children from a remote Border Patrol station in Texas following reports that more than 300 children were detained there, caring for each other with inadequate food, water and sanitation.

Just 30 children remained at the station outside El Paso Monday, said Rep. Veronica Escobar after her office was briefed on the situation by an official with Customs and Border Protection.

The Border Patrol knew of the in advance, but did nothing to improve conditions. Now that conditions inside the facility have leaked, the Border Patrol is using it to ask for more money. 

A Border Patrol statement issued Monday: “Our short-term holding facilities were not designed to hold vulnerable populations and we urgently need additional humanitarian funding to manage this crisis.”

Mike Pence, from the : when “asked about the unsafe, unsanitary conditions for the children on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, said “it’s totally unacceptable,” adding that he hopes Congress will allocate more resources to border security”

As far as where the children have been taken, some at least, to another Border Patrol facility, that is not any better:

Although it’s unclear where all the children held at Clint have been moved, Escobar said some were sent to another facility on the north side of El Paso called Border Patrol Station 1. Escobar said it’s a temporary site with roll-out mattresses, showers, medical facilities and air conditioning.

But Clara Long, an attorney who interviewed children at Border Patrol Station 1 last week, said conditions were not necessarily better there.

“One boy I spoke with said his family didn’t get mattresses or blankets for the first two nights, and he and his mom came down with a fever,” said Long, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch. “He said there were no toothbrushes, and it was very, very cold.”

Last month Border Patrol agents were holding families under a traffic bridge in El Paso. Once word got out, it was the same. The people were moved, and the agency leaders asked for more money. The Border Patrol detains thousands of people every day in some of the worst conditions they will experience, even if incarcerated elsewhere. The administration needs to process people out to family members and community release - not hold children in filth for weeks.