Children do not belong in detention. Federal protections exist to ensure that migrant children are held only for limited periods of time, and provided adequate food and shelter while in these facilities.
But an alarming new report issued by the Office of Inspector General details dangerous conditions at southern border facilities where children and families are held, with one senior facility manager calling the situation “a ticking time bomb.”
Overcrowding is so severe that as inspectors toured the facilities, migrants banged on the cells and put notes on the windows begging for help. Amid this overcrowding, children at multiple facilities were denied access to showers. In violation of federal standards, some children were not given hot meals until the inspectors arrived.
The report also states that 31% of detained children in these facilities, 826 of the 2,669, were held longer than the 72-hour limit prescribed by a federal court settlement. And the number of children entering the country is growing, according to the report: nearly 24,000 unaccompanied minor children were apprehended at the border between October 2018 and May 2019, a 62% increase compared to the previous period.
It may be hard to look at the photos in the report—but we cannot turn a blind eye. There are young children in these photos, babies in diapers. No child deserves to be subjected to these dangerous conditions.
This 4th of July, you can make your voice heard. While the public cannot visit or directly donate supplies to children in immigration custody, you can contact your members of Congress today and let them know that this cruel and inhumane treatment of children and families is unacceptable and un-American.