Border

Legal monitors warn Clint border facility is neglecting migrant kids

Clint TX migrant shelter

EL PASO, Texas - Lawyers warn that kids are taking care of kids, and there's inadequate food, water and sanitation for the 250 infants, children and teens at the Border Patrol station in Clint. 

 

The bleak portrait emerged Thursday after a legal team interviewed 60 children at the facility near El Paso that has become the latest place where attorneys say young migrants are describing neglect and mistreatment at the hands of the U.S. government.

 

Among the team of attorneys was Clara Long, who said they weren't able to tour the facility itself. 

 

"We didn't have access to the actual cells where children were being held, or in some cases the chain-link cages, but what we did have is the right to speak to children who are being held there so they were brought out to us in interview rooms.

 

Long noted that some of the children she spoke to were wearing clothes that were visibly soiled. 

 

"There were several 2-or 3-year-olds who seems to have been separated from adult care takers at the border." She said. 

 

Older teens at the facility were stepping up to care for the younger children, according to interviews she conducted with children. 

 

"When it comes to hygiene, showering or eating, older kids told us, and younger kids as well, that they were the ones who took the younger kids to the bathroom and gave them their food and change their diapers," Long said. 

 

She describes the situation as a "complete lack of supervision."

 

"That raises huge concerns about the safety of these children," Long said. "We have not heard any specific accounts about child-on-child abuse."

But Long said she did hear from one migrant boy who said he witnessed a scary incident involving two other migrant children trying to talk in separate areas. 

 

"The child says he saw a Border Patrol agent physically pull a child from the back of his head," Long said. 

 

ABC-7 reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection regarding the reports. 

 

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection leverages our limited resources to provide the best care possible to those in our custody, especially children," the agency wrote in a statement sent to ABC-7.  "As DHS and CBP leadership have noted numerous times, our short-term holding facilities were not designed to hold vulnerable populations and we urgently need additional humanitarian funding to manage this crisis.  CBP works closely with our partners at the Department of Health and Human Services to transfer unaccompanied children to their custody as soon as placement is identified, and as quickly and expeditiously as possible to ensure proper care. All allegations of civil rights abuses or mistreatment in CBP detention are taken seriously and investigated to the fullest extent possible."

 

Long said she visited five different migrant holding facilities, three of which were in the El Paso Sector. 

 

Despite the report she said there are certain aspects that make the Clint facility more hospitable. 

 

"I will say, that the conditions in Clint are better than normal border patrol jails," said Long. 

 

The lawyers inspected the facilities because they are involved in the Flores settlement, a Clinton-era legal agreement that governs detention conditions for migrant children and families. 

 

The lawyers negotiated access to the facility with officials, and say Border Patrol knew the dates of their visit three weeks in advance.

 

Children told lawyers that they were fed oatmeal, a cookie and a sweetened drink in the morning, instant noodles for lunch and a burrito and cookie for dinner. There are no fruits or vegetables. They said they'd gone weeks without bathing or a clean change of clothes.

 

Republican Congressman Will Hurd, whose district includes Clint, said "tragic conditions" playing out on the southern border were pushing government agencies, nonprofits and Texas communities to the limit.

 

The Trump administration has been scrambling to find new space to hold immigrants as it faces criticism that it's violating the human rights of migrant children by keeping so many of them detained.

 

 


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