Investigators report dire border facility conditions, detainees unable to shower for nearly a month
Government investigators who toured a number of border facilities confirmed dire conditions in a draft report obtained by BuzzFeed News, including children and families who “did not have hot meals until the week the inspectors arrived” and adults who had not been able to shower for a month. “Instead, wet wipes were handed out to maintain hygiene.”
In a recent report, an unnamed Border Patrol official basically called attorneys who have previously described facility conditions liars because they didn’t witness them for themselves, but maybe they’ll believe the Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General, which noted in a draft report “dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention of children and adults in the Rio Grande Valley.”
“Many single adults were being fed only bologna sandwiches, leading to some having medical issues like constipation,” BuzzFeed said. “In one facility, officials found some single adults in standing room conditions for a week while others were held in overcrowded cells for more than a month.” Desperate detainees clogged toilets with Mylar blankets—their only source of warmth in these freezing cold facilities—in order to be let out of cells.
Others banged on windows for help. “Specifically, when detainees observed us, they banged on the cell windows, shouted, pressed notes to the window with their time in custody, and gestured to evidence of their time in custody.” BuzzFeed notes that “at one facility, officials ended their visit early because they were agitating the situation.”
The draft report also confirms ongoing violations of policy dictating that children shouldn’t be jailed in these hellholes for longer than three days. “At the centralized processing center in McAllen, Texas, 165 unaccompanied children had been in detention for longer than a week as they awaited to be sent to shelters that care for migrant kids. More than 50 of them were younger than 7 years old and some of them had waited more than two weeks in border facilities.”
These are human rights atrocities, and they are being committed in our name. “We urge Congress to pass supplemental appropriations to ensure the appropriate treatment and care of unaccompanied immigrant children in government custody,” the American Bar Association recently said, “and we call on the administration to enforce laws and settlements that guarantee humane, minimal standards of care for vulnerable children, no matter how they arrived in our country.”