Hundreds Of Migrant Children Are Being Held At Remote, Substandard Desert Tent Camp


The government announced its plan to withdraw from a court settlement that requires youth shelters to meet minimum safety standards.

By Angelina Chapin
The HuffPost (10/2/18)

Over the past two weeks, hundreds of migrant children have been sent to a tent city in Tornillo, Texas, according to The New York Times, in what experts are calling a humanitarian crisis of the U.S. government’s own making.

Although the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) claims the tent camp is a necessary response to filled shelters, experts say that overcrowding is a result of the Trump administration’s recent decision to more thoroughly scrutinize potential sponsors of immigrant children. And that has caused children to languish in conditions that harm their physical and mental health.

The number of border crossings has actually declined over the past few years, yet the number of detained children has increased more than fivefold since just last year. Advocates say the spike is a result of a new government strategy to more thoroughly screen potential sponsors by doing background checks and fingerprinting for every person who offers to care for an immigrant child in government custody ― and also screen anybody who lives with the potential sponsor.

Since the tent city is considered an emergency facility, it’s not held to the same child welfare standards as the government-run shelters and groups homes for migrant children.

Although advocates agree it’s important to properly vet sponsors, who are usually parents or family members of the children, they say this additional scrutiny has created a backlog in the system by making it more difficult for kids to leave ORR custody.

 In late September, ICE arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants who had applied to be sponsors, though the government has not previously required this group of people to have legal status in the U.S. Jennifer Podkul, the director of policy for Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), said the new vetting system prioritizes “immigration enforcement over child welfare.”

“There’s not a greater number of kids going into the system but a bottleneck to them leaving,” said Podkul. “This is a self-manufactured crisis for political gain, and the losers are the poor children.”

 Worrisome Conditions Inside Tent City

While the government initially opened the Texas tent city in June to temporarily accommodate 400 kids, it has since expanded to accommodate 3,800. It’s in a remote area on the Mexico border, about 35 miles southeast of El Paso, and consists of tents that each house 20 minors, mostly ages 13 to 17, who sleep in bunk beds. …

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  • New York Times: Migrant Children Moved Under Cover Of Darkness To A Texas Tent City — In shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night in recent weeks and loaded onto buses with backpacks and snacks for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas. Until now, most undocumented children being held by federal immigration authorities had been housed in private foster homes or shelters, sleeping two or three to a room. They received formal schooling and regular visits with legal representatives assigned to their immigration cases. But in the rows of sand-colored tents in Tornillo, Tex., children in groups of 20, separated by gender, sleep lined up in bunks. There is no school: The children are given workbooks that they have no obligation to complete. Access to legal services is limited. These midnight voyages are playing out across the country, as the federal government struggles to find room for more than 13,000 detained migrant children … Read the Rest


  • Immigrant Children Were Held for Days in ‘Ice-Box’ Chain-Link Holding Pens — The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” crackdown at the border this spring was troubled from the outset by planning shortfalls, widespread communication failures and administrative indifference to the separation of small children from their parents, according to an unpublished report by the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog. The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is the government’s first attempt to autopsy the chaos produced between May 5 and June 20, when President Trump abruptly halted the separations under mounting pressure from his party and members of his family. The DHS Office of Inspector General’s review found at least 860 migrant children were left in Border Patrol holding cells longer than the 72-hour limit mandated by U.S. courts, with one minor confined for 12 days and another for 25. … Read the Rest


  • Trump & Miller Had Planned To Expel 193,000 US Citizen Children When They Canceled TPS — WaPo has an important article up which investigates the Trump administration’s plans for TPS recipients form El Salvador in particular. The article describes how many Salvadoran people came to the US or could not return home in 2001 after a devastating earthquake. President Bushand granted them temporary protected status due to conditions in their home countries that made it difficult or impossible to return home. Since then, their status has been renewed by presidents from both parties. The initial TPS designations for natural disasters or armed conflicts have been in effect since 1990. Over the past 28 years, many of these people put down roots, some also had children who were born in US and therefore US citizens. … Read the Rest

(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to )


Normalizing Racism Is New Low For Bottom-Dwelling Trump

By Jamil Smith
Rolling Stone (8/30/18)

Eight years ago, Arizona tried to legalize racial profiling. SB-1070, known colloquially as the “Show Me Your Papers” law, merely codified the bigotry that disgraced Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio had been putting into practice. It permitted officers to question a person’s immigration status based on their appearance. The law was defanged in the courts, but Arpaio’s star rose in Republican circles. President Trump endorsed his practices when he pardoned him last year for a contempt-of-court misdemeanor conviction, which Arpaio received because he refused to obey a federal order to stop racially profiling people.

Arpaio, who was most recently running for U.S. Senate, was crushed Tuesday in Arizona’s Republican primary. But Arpaio doesn’t need to go to Washington; Trump is already doing his work. One day after Arpaio’s defeat, the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration is nationalizing SB-1070 in practice if not in law, accusing “hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies.”

This is birtherism for non-presidents, and it is a new low for this president.

Some citizens who try to cross back into the U.S. from Mexico are being marooned at the border, their passports revoked at a whim. Passport applicants of Hispanic descent are being jailed and even threatened with deportation. The justification that the government has offered is feeble, at best …

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