Because it is well known that border stations are so filthy and unsanitary, children are not supposed to stay in them for more than 72 hours. That is official American government policy. Yet, despite that, many children are staying there for a month or more.
Many of those crossing the border without permission do so with accompanying relatives and then report to the border officials. They are then turned over to family detention centres. After that they are often separate from their kin, merely to put pressure on them to leave. Many of these facilities are now run by private companies who do so, of course, to make a profit. Many of them are making huge profits. In some cases even non-profits companies are making huge profits. That is what happens wherever privatization happens.
It must also be remembered that 86% of these family claimants seeking asylum have families in the US that could take care of them. Yet many young children are nonetheless detained in these detention centres that some lawyers have called “worse than prisons.” Many of the families cross the border with relatives and then promptly report to border officials as they are supposed to do. Many of those border officials respond by separating the children from their relatives. Then they are effectively abandoned in border facilities that are not designed for children in the first place. Border patrol people know they are not set up to take these children.
All of this is the direct result of Trump administration policies designed to separate children from their families in order to put pressure on them to go back “home.’–a home that is often overrun by dangerous gangs encouraged by American policies of the past and present.
Customs and Border Patrol (‘CBP’) recently made a statement: “We completely agree with some of the reporting that has gone out in that unaccompanied young children should not be held in our custody. Our facilities are not designed for that.”
Things are so bad that local people have become embarrassed. Some of the locals have dropped off diapers, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, toys, and other things to help out the asylum seekers and restore a little of the reputation of America. These people are acting in the best spirit of America. They are the generous Americans that Marilynne Robinson believed were out there. Sadly, that generous spirit is not displayed by the President. For some reason some of the local people who wanted to help were turned away by CBP.
All of this is really mad. Many of the children of asylum seekers have homes to go to, but CBP does not let them go there. Instead they are poorly housed at the expense of American taxpayers many of whom seem to think this makes sense because they mistakenly believe they are keeping out illegal immigrants. People are wrongly conflating children in care with immigration. These people are seeking refuge/asylum. Many want to go home when it is safe to do so. Many will never seek to immigrate. They are not eligible to immigrate when they come. One would have thought Democrats and Republicans would get over the bickering and just help these desperate people out. These children should not be the responsibility of the government and the American taxpayers at all! Warren Binford an American civil rights lawyer and Professor of Law put it succinctly: “All we need to do is for the people to stop politicizing the children.” This is a child welfare issue and should not be part of the immigration debate at all. This is folly on steroids.
Really it is worse than that. I think this points to the moral bankruptcy of the United States and the sterile polarization of American politics. And I don’t just mean the President. Everyone knows he is morally empty. But what about the American people? Millions of people continue to support him. Often these policies are fuelled by unacknowledged racism.
Most of the very young children in family detention centres were with child mothers. Such mothers need support to care for their children. They don’t need harassment. Yet sometimes those child mothers get sick and were quarantined and then given to other children as young as 7 or 8 years old. The BCP is unable to take care of all the infants in their custody so they asked 7 and 8 year old children to do it! Of course very few 7 or 8 year old children know much about taking care of infants. These children should be with their parents, not arbitrarily and irrationally separated from them in order to pressure their parents.
People around the world are seeing that moral emptiness in American and they are amazed and disgusted. This is not the America they admired.
Here are some comments from journalists who have been held as political prisoners around the world:
David Rhode of the New York Timeswho was held prisoner by the Taliban: “The Taliban gave me toothpaste and soap!”
James Regalan “I was given toothpaste and allowed to shower every couple of days.”