HOUSTON (AP) — U.S. government officials say they’ve moved more than 100 kids back to a remote border facility where lawyers reported detained children were caring for each other and had inadequate food, water, and sanitation.
An official from U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday that the “majority” of the roughly 300 children detained at Clint, Texas, last week have been placed in facilities operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, wouldn’t say exactly how many children are currently detained there. But the official says Clint is better equipped than some of the Border Patrol’s tents to hold children.
Attorneys involved in monitoring care for migrant children who visited Clint last week said older children were trying to take care of toddlers, The Associated Press reported Thursday.
They described a 4-year-old with matted hair who had gone without a shower for days, and hungry, inconsolable children struggling to soothe one another.
Some had been locked for three weeks inside the facility, where 15 children were sick with the flu and another 10 were in medical quarantine.
Many children interviewed had arrived alone at the U.S.-Mexico border, but some had been separated from their parents or other adult caregivers including aunts and uncles, the attorneys said.
Clara Long, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, and other lawyers inspected the facilities because they are involved in the Flores settlement, a Clinton-era legal agreement that governs detention conditions for migrant children and families.
“In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention I have never heard of this level of inhumanity,” Holly Cooper, who co-directs University of California, Davis’ Immigration Law Clinic and represents detained youth, said last week.
Lawmakers from both parties decried the situation last week.