Thursday, July 18, 2024

Migrant children describe the horrific conditions at the detention centers

A 16-year-old mother sleeps with her baby on a cement floor, a 12-year-old wakes up in the middle of the night from hunger, a 5-year-old is sick and has no socks and an 11-year-old cries in a cell, and is only let outside for a few minutes each day.

These are some of the stories collected by a group of attorneys who interviewed more than 60 minors at U.S. Border Patrol facilities in El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley sector over the past few weeks. They provide a horrifying portrait of life in detention, where toddlers and children sleep on concrete under bright lights and are not properly fed, allowed to bathe or brush their teeth.

“The declarations paint a picture of wanton disregard for the safety and welfare of children in their care,” said Hope Frye, an immigration lawyer who spoke with migrant kids. Last Wednesday, the lawyers involved in the Flores settlement, an agreement that outlines child welfare standards in detention, filed a temporary restraining order in federal court.

It would force the government to allow the facilities to be inspected by public health professionals and staffed by medical professionals. On Friday, a judge ruled that the government and Flores lawyers must address the conditions in mediation run by an independent monitor who is tasked with making sure the Trump administration complies with the settlement.

While the Trump administration is focused on border security and detaining families for longer periods of time, kids told lawyers they felt desperate, sick and neglected in Border Patrol facilities. “The immigration agents separated me from my father right away. I was very frightened and scared. I cried. I have not seen my father again” said a 5-year-old from Honduras. “I have been at this facility for several days. [“I have had a cold and cough; I have not seen a doctor and I have not been given any medicine. It is cold at night when we sleep. I have shoes but no socks.]”