More than 2,000 unaccompanied children have been detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at any given time over the past couple of weeks, Vox reports.
The law states that minors must be released into the custody of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the nearest relative in the United States after 72 hours with CBP. However, children are reportedly being detained for weeks at a time in many cases, left unwashed in facilities that don’t have basic resources like food and toothbrushes.
At the end of last week, investigators and lawyers went public with their disturbing findings at one detention facility in Clint, Texas, after checking on the U.S. government’s obligations under the Flores agreement. Their findings have sparked outrage; The New York Times summed up conditions at the Clint facility as a “chaotic scene of sickness and filth.” Per The Times:
Children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met, the lawyers said. Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.
According to Vox, the government hasn’t done much to remedy the dire situation:
The U.S. government’s response was to move the children out of the Clint facility—and move another group of children in.
On Monday, officials confirmed that all 350 of the children there last week would be moved to other facilities by Tuesday; about 250 of them have been placed with HHS and the remainder are being sent to other Border Patrol facilities. But on Tuesday morning, a Customs and Border Protection official told a New York Times reporter on a press call that about a hundred children were currently being housed at Clint.
While the federal government has made no moves to help these children, you can. Here are a few actionable steps you can take to support detained minors:
Call your elected officials. Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) has created an online form that makes it easy to email your congressional representation to tell them you want better conditions in migrant detention facilities. Don’t be afraid to hold Congress accountable for the atrocities happening at our southern border.
Donate to advocacy groups like the Women’s Refugee Commission. Organizers are on the ground working to protect children seeking asylum. Here are some other advocacy groups that could benefit from your time and financial donations:
Report on and document immigrant raids. United We Dream’s MigraWatch encourages us all to know the law and to spread the word when we see injustices happening. They have even created a hotline to call or text to report Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or CBP activities. The American Civil Liberties Union has also created a “Know Your Rights” page for encounters with ICE.
Protest, speak up and hold candidates accountable. It’s more important than ever to use your vote to push back against inhumane border policies. Join protest marches and flood social media with updates on the atrocities taking place.