An illegal migrant girl has revealed “heartbreaking conditions” at a Texas detention facility opened under the Biden administration in which the unaccompanied migrant minors were fed with spoiled food and held in overcrowded tents.
The Daily Caller News Foundation said last week it obtained a court document in which a 13-year-old Honduran migrant declared about troubling conditions she and other detained migrants had suffered at the Fort Bliss detention center.
The girl said that migrant children had to sleep in “freezer tents” where the lights were always on and many of them found it hard to sleep.
“We didn’t have any privacy when we went to the bathroom. I met other girls who had already been in that building for 15 days and was really scared,” she wrote in her declaration.
They were served with “horrible” food. The girl said that they were given hamburgers but could not eat them because there was a foul odor coming from the bread. The salad was soggy and covered in condiments; the rice was very hard, and many times they were given chicken that was bloody and raw.
According to the girl, many of the migrants became so depressed they resorted to harming themselves. Employees at the shelter confiscated items over the concerns that migrant children could hurt themselves, including writing utensils and plastic identification cards that some girls used to cut themselves.
The Honduran teen described that she and dozens of others were placed on suicide watch and monitored for 24-hours over 10 days and were required to attend counseling sessions after that period.
In addition, a lot of security guards watched them to make sure they could not escape. There was a period the staff was worried about the safety risk, and they took away all children’s identification cards and lanyards.
They were allowed to use the phone about two times per week, but their calls were recorded and monitored by counselors and social workers.
The girl said that she is ready to testify about conditions.
In a remark providing to the Daily Caller News Foundation, Krish O’Mara Vinarajah—President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service – said that “These heartbreaking conditions are emblematic of the many problems with the warehousing of vulnerable children by contractors with little to no child welfare experience.”
“Overly controlled schedules, limited educational and recreational time, inadequate nutrition, and insufficient access to case managers are deeply troubling conditions that no child should be subjected to,” Vinarajah said.
“These children aren’t just in our government’s custody; they are in our care—their welfare is better served in settings that are small, safe, and licensed in line with their best interests,” Vinarajah added.
“The primary focus now and in years to come must be building permanent, licensed capacity to eliminate the need to warehouse children in conditions that may traumatize them. We can, and must, welcome these children with compassion and dignity,” Vinarajah continued.
The Biden administration opened the Fort Bliss emergency intake site near El Paso, Texas, in March in an effort to move unaccompanied migrant minors out of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities, Daily Caller reported, citing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The facility was supposed to provide a “safe place to rest” for up to 5,000 male migrant children, with services provided by a mix of contracted and federal employees.
According to HHS data, nearly 15,000 migrant children were in HHS custody, and just under 1,000 minors were in CBP facilities at the end of June.