Migrant children in U.S. custody are reportedly locked away for crying for their parents, according to the testimony of one detainee.
A 12-year-old detainee at the immigrant detention camp in Clint, Texas recently told her attorney about the dangerous conditions she and other children faced at the facility. According to video the Associated Press viewed that was taken by the girl’s attorney, children were punished by Border Patrol agents for crying out for their parents after being separated from them.
“There are some children, like the age of my sister, they cried for their mother or their father. They cried for their aunt. They missed them,” the girl said. “They cried and they were locked up.”
The girl, whose mother fled Central America to seek asylum, said she and other children were “treated badly,” and was unable to eat a burrito Border Patrol guards gave her “because it tasted very bad.” The AP also reported that attorneys who visited the Clint facility reported seeing more than 250 children caged together, and passing toddlers between them to provide what care they could, as the facility’s guards were not able to provide sufficiently for the toddlers on their own. Lawyers also said there was inadequate food, water, and sanitation at the Clint camp.
As Grit Post reported last week, the Clint facility is the same detention center that was being accused of violating the 1997 Flores settlement that dictated how child detainees were to be treated while in U.S. custody. Attorneys for the Trump Department of Justice argued before a federal judicial panel that failing to provide migrant children with soap and toothbrushes was not a violation of the Flores settlement’s “safe and sanitary” requirements, as the settlement didn’t specifically name soap and toothbrushes as necessary items. Attorneys representing the detainees argued that “safe and sanitary” should imply that detainees are to be provided with basic hygienic products, like soap and toothbrushes.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus recently led a group of lawmakers to tour immigrant detention facilities in Texas. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) managed to sneak in a cellphone and shoot video of a group of female detainees at the El Paso border station who had been crying because they couldn’t see their children.
This moment captures what it’s like for women in CBP custody to share a cramped cell—some held for 50 days—for them to be denied showers for up to 15 days and life-saving medication. For some, it also means being separated from their children. This is El Paso Border Station #1. pic.twitter.com/OmCAlGxDt8
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) July 1, 2019
Activist group MoveOn, in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Popular Democracy, scheduled numerous “#CloseTheCamps” protests for Tuesday that are currently taking place across the country. CommonDreams reported that there are 184 events taking place in which Americans are gathering at Congressional offices to demand the border detention camps be closed, and that they allocate “not one dollar” toward separations of migrant children and their parents.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.