A picture essay:

“I have never heard of this level of inhumanity.”

When is enough, enough?

| revcom.us


A team of lawyers who work with migrant children recently examined the conditions of children at two Border Patrol facilities in Texas. They interviewed 60 migrant children being held. What they found is horrifying, and intolerable: hundreds of kids being held in overcrowded, filthy, and increasingly dangerous conditions at processing centers in Clint, southeast of El Paso, and Ursula, near McAllen, Texas.

The Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) was forced to grant this inspection because the team is monitoring government compliance with a 1997 agreement (the Flores settlement, which Trump lawyers are trying to overturn) that requires the government to release children from immigration detention within 72 hours. Yet many of these children had been forced into these prison conditions for weeks, one as long as 26 days.

The conclusion of the co-director of the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of California Davis, which represents detained youth: “In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention, I have never heard of this level of inhumanity.”

Now ask yourself—when is enough, enough?

Warren Binford, law professor at Willamette University, interviewed some of the children at the Customs and Border Patrol detention facility at Clint, Texas, southeast of El Paso: 

“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 children... children cannot take care of other children, and yet that's how they are trying to run this facility.  The children are hardly being fed anything nutritious, they are being medically neglected. We are seeing a flu outbreak, and we're seeing a lice infestation. We have children sleeping on the floor. It's the worst conditions I've ever witnessed...”

There were children taking care of children: At Clint, the team of lawyers found three infants with their teenaged mothers, four more who were ages one to three years, and dozens more under 12. Three girls told the attorneys they've been taking care of a two-year-old boy for days who came to them with wet pants, no diaper, and a mucus-smeared shirt: “A Border Patrol agent came in our room with a 2-year-old boy and asked us, 'Who wants to take care of this little boy?'” An eight-year-old was taking care of a small four-year-old with matted hair who didn't want to take a shower.

At the McAllen facility authorities were holding a 17-year-old Guatemalan teenager who'd given birth prematurely to her one-month-old baby, described as lethargic, cold to the touch and not eating. The baby was wrapped in a dirty towel. The mother was in a wheelchair, recovering from a cesarean section. They had spent seven days in the facility without adequate medical care. “The baby belongs in a hospital neonatal unit,” said the lawyers.

Trump’s Justice Department says immigrant children don't need basic care.

Horrifying conditions, and a health emergency: One lawyer told VICE News “I can’t give a medical opinion,...but everyone I saw was exhibiting some degree of respiratory illness,” and several children were in need of immediate medical attention. Fifteen had the flu, and 10 more were quarantined, with no soap to wash themselves with. “We saw many, many sick children who were coughing, had runny noses, and mucus all over their shirts.” Another attorney described a “pervasive health crisis" at the Ursula Processing Center. “Everyone is sick. Everyone. They’re using their clothes to wipe mucus off the children, wipe vomit off the children. Most of the little children are not fully clothed.” These outrageous hygiene and living conditions are spreading infectious diseases, and creating a public health emergency.

They found children sleeping in freezing conditions, without blankets, but only pieces of aluminum foil. Because of overcrowding, many children were sleeping on the floor, some with mattresses. Children were being fed oatmeal, a cookie and a sweetened drink in the morning, instant noodles for lunch and a burrito and cookie for dinner. No fruits or vegetables. The same meal every day. Nearly all of the children said they were hungry. Many said they had gone weeks without bathing, or a clean change of clothes. One San Francisco psychoanalyst who has examined 50 children said it is causing lasting damage.

“Almost none of the children we interviewed had come across the border themselves. Essentially, they came across the border with family. And they are trying to be reunited with family who are living in the United States. Almost every child that I interviewed had family, parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, siblings in the United States who are waiting for them and are ready to care for them....

“What we're doing is taking children away from their families at the border, we're putting them in inhumane conditions and Border Patrol facilities where they shouldn't be at all, not even for a few hours... 72 hours is the maximum that someone is supposed to be kept there.…” (Warren Binford)

Photos on this page were obtained by CNN from an unnamed person.



Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:

Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.