By Sam Gibbs.
For the past several weeks, over 2000 children have been held in detention centers without their parents, without enough food or toothbrushes. These children go days without showering and are under cared for in the overcrowded facilities. The conditions in a facility in Clint, Texas gained national media attention because of how awful they were exposed to be by investigators. The investigators were checking the facility in order to monitor government compliance with the Flores settlement, which mandates that children must be held in safe and sanitary conditions and moved out of Border Patrol custody without unnecessary delays. The problem does not end with one facility, however. Many of the facilities in Texas, as well as the officials that work in them, are mistreating the children and forcing them to live in horrific conditions. The guards are aggressive and punish the children. Children are sleeping on cold floors with no blankets. There are outbreaks of lice and the flu. Customs and Border Protection has hastily prepared these facilities due to the huge influx of immigrants coming into the United States without proper documentation. The system is overwhelmed and the response is to scramble and place children in facilities not meant for them and that are under prepared. Children are not legally supposed to be held for more than 72 hours. However, many have been held for weeks at a time because there simply is not a place to put them. This is not a good enough answer for me. The system needs to reform in order to properly deal with the thousands of families seeking asylum. The United States government is supposed to protect immigrant children and keep them safe and healthy and they are wildly failing to do that. In addition, children that are deemed “unaccompanied” cannot be released from custody without a proper sponsor being found. The problem with this is that many children are not coming to the US unaccompanied. They are coming with family members and being separated from them, when all they are trying to do is get to their parents or other family already in the US. Alexadria Ocasio-Cortez, in a controversial statement, compared the detention centers to concentration camps. This led to a debate in the media of whether this comparison was wholly accurate. The truth is, children being held against their will in unhealthy and unsanitary conditions, while also being routinely punished and mistreated is comparable to a concentration camp. Anne Frank didn’t die from the gas chambers, she died due to the diseases contracted from the camp itself, which were a result of poor living conditions. If we do not urge the administration and lawmakers to act and change these conditions, laws will continue to be broken and children will continue to be held like this. Visit https://www.raicestexas.org/ to see how you can help.