Hundreds of migrant children on Monday were reported to have been transferred out of a Texas facility following uproar over their treatment. But on Tuesday, 100 children were moved back to the facility in Clint, Texas, which was described as having “inhumane conditions,” by lawyers who visited, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Meanwhile, the acting commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees their detention, announced Tuesday he would be stepping down.
John Sanders, who was appointed to the post in April, gave no reason for his resignation. But in an interview with the Associated Press last week, he blamed the problems in the detention centers on a lack of funding. House Democrats seemed set to pass legislation Tuesday to deliver $4.5 billion in emergency funding to address the humanitarian crisis for migrant families, but the AP reported the White House has threatened to veto the bill over terms it sees as hampering enforcement.
Last week lawyers described the facility in Clint Associated Press as overcrowded quarters without adequate food, water or hygiene.
When a team of lawyers made a long-planned visit to the remote facility just south of El Paso, they found detained teenagers caring for infants, outbreaks of flu and lice, and children, including babies, sleeping on concrete floors.
“It’s the worst conditions I have ever witnessed in several years of doing these inspections,” said Willamette University lawyer Warren Binford, who also described her visit to the facility on the NewsHour on Friday. “What we saw are dirty children who are malnourished, who are being severely neglected. They are being kept in inhumane conditions. They are essentially being warehoused, as many as 300 children in a cell, with almost no adult supervision.”
Binford was so troubled by what she saw inside the facility that she went to the press. After her interview on the NewsHour last week, Customs and Border Protection sent a statement saying that the agency takes allegations of abuse and mistreatment seriously. The agency noted that “our short-term holding facilities were not designed to hold vulnerable populations and we urgently need additional humanitarian funding to manage this crisis.”
In an interview Monday, Binford shared more details of the difficult scenes she witnessed inside the center.
Binford described a 14-year-old girl, who had been separated from her own sister, sitting through an interview holding a 2-year-old child. According to Binford, the child seemed desperate to be held and not put down. The teenaged girl said she and others had been looking after the toddler for several days.
During the interview, Binford said a 7-year-old girl sat at the other end of the room, crying and looking over at them. The teenager asked the girl if she wanted to come closer, which she did, sliding into the teenager’s arms with the other child. “They have no one else,” Binford said the teen had told her.
“Children cannot take care of children, and yet that’s how they are trying to run this facility,” Binford added.