8-YEAR-OLD MIGRANTS BEING FORCED TO CARE FOR TODDLERS IN DETENTION CAMPS
A team of lawyers conducted 60 interviews with migrant children being held in an El Paso, Texas, detention camp and found conditions to be dismal.
Fifteen of those in the holding center had the flu and 10 more are quarantined with illness, according to the lawyers, who first gave the data to the Associated Press. Three infants are being detained alongside their teenage mothers, and many children are under the age of 12.
“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?’ Another girl said she would take care of him, but she lost interest after a few hours and so I started taking care of him yesterday,” one teenaged girl told the lawyers in an interview. The boy was not wearing a diaper and his shirt was covered in mucus, she said.
Law professor Warren Binford, who aided in the interviews, said she witnessed an 8-year-old girl caring for a 4-year-old child who was very dirty, the girl was unable to get the boy to take a shower. She also described the children she interviewed as sleep-deprived, often falling asleep while speaking with her.
“In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention, I have never heard of this level of inhumanity,” said Holly Cooper, co-director of the University of California, Davis’ Immigration Law Clinic, to the AP.
The lawyers were inspecting the facility as part of the Flores agreement, which resulted from a landmark 1985 case that established that facilities where minor migrants are held must be kept “safe and sanitary.”
A representative of the Trump administration, the Justice Department’s Sarah Fabian, argued Tuesday that safe and sanitary conditions don’t necessarily have to include toothbrushes, soap or towels for children.
Nicole Goodkind is a political reporter at Newsweek. You can reach her on Twitter @NicoleGoodkind or by email, N.Goodkind@newsweek.com.