Whistleblowers Warn Of Harmful Conditions For Children In Migrant Detention Centers


All Things Considered / NPR (12/8/18)

Physicians Scott Allen and Pamela McPherson discuss the abuses they witnessed in government detention centers when they inspected the facilities for the Department of Homeland Security.

Link to 6-Minute Audio

  • No One On The Inside Can Talk About What’s Happening At The Tent City For Migrant Kids — TORNILLO, Texas – About 40 miles southeast of El Paso, past the billboards for fast food joints and rugged desert hills, residents of this small community sometimes can see the lights of the nearby detention camp glowing in the night. Some of them have brought gifts for the roughly 2,300 children inside, only to be turned away by guards. Months after the government erected a tent city in the desert, most of what happens inside the encampment remains hidden, even from curious neighbors in the nearby town of 1,600 residents. The only images of the minors in the camp, standing outside in an orderly line or playing soccer, have been released by the Department of Health and Human Services.  There is one local organization that gets inside the camp regularly: Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services. The El Paso legal nonprofit is among dozens of groups funded by the government to provide legal services to immigrant children in custody. But lawyers at Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, known locally as DMRS, can’t speak publicly about the children at Tornillo. Their contract prohibits them from talking to the media, Executive Director Melissa Lopez said in an interview. It’s another aspect of the conflict of interest built into the funding for legal aid, which also prevents lawyers from taking the government to court to get children released. She referred questions to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. “It’s better for the details to come from them,” she said. The agency has not responded to a request for comment. … Read the Rest

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