For some weeks now, Border Patrol officials, many border town mayors and social service providers have been sounding alarms that they are overwhelmed by the sheer number of people apprehended crossing into the U.S. illegally. In each of the past three months, more than 100,000 migrants – the total current count is in excess of 600,000 – have crossed. The total represents a 13-year high.
A new report from the Associated Press paints a bleak portrait of conditions for infants, children and teens at a facility near El Paso, including descriptions of neglect and mistreatment.
Claire Long, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, was a member of a team of lawyers and doctors who interviewed children at the El Paso facility.
Long’s group gained access to the facility as part of a legal settlement that dates back 20 years, called the Flores settlement “which gives access to lawyers and doctors working for the counsel of the class action,” Long says.
Long says the Border Patrol has been putting many of the apprehended children at the Clint Border Patrol station.
“When we got there, there were over 350 kids in the station,” she says. “Over the days that we were there, about 100 were shipped out.
Long says she saw a number of toddlers who had no family members with them, as well as teen mothers with their infants.
“In all of these interviews, what we heard from kids and what we saw with our own eyes with kids who were in the interview rooms, was that very young children that are too young to wash or feed themselves, were being left to fend for themselves in group cells,” Long says.
She says there are no child care services, other than asking older children to care for younger ones.
Border Patrol officials say the high number of migrant arrivals is limiting its ability to move children out of its facility. Long says children told her group that they had been in the “Border Patrol jail” for three weeks or more.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.