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Gov't Moves Migrant Kids After Exposure06/25 06:17

   (AP) -- The U.S. government has removed most of the children from a remote 
Border Patrol station in Texas following reports that more than 300 children 
were detained there, caring for each other with inadequate food, water and 
sanitation.

   Just 30 children remained at the station outside El Paso Monday, said Rep. 
Veronica Escobar after her office was briefed on the situation by an official 
with Customs and Border Protection.

   Attorneys who visited Clint last week said older children were trying to 
take care of infants and toddlers, The Associated Press first 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.

   "How is it possible that you both were unaware of the inhumane conditions 
for children, especially tender-age children at the Clint Station?" asked 
Escobar in a letter sent Friday to U.S. Customs and Border Protection acting 
commissioner John Sanders and U.S. Border Patrol chief Carla Provost.

   She asked to be informed by the end of this week what steps they're taking 
to end "these humanitarian abuses."

   Lawmakers from both parties decried the situation last week.

   Border Patrol officials have not responded to AP's questions about the 
conditions at the Clint facility, but in an emailed statement Monday they said: 
"Our short-term holding facilities were not designed to hold vulnerable 
populations and we urgently need additional humanitarian funding to manage this 
crisis."

   Although it's unclear where all the children held at Clint have been moved, 
Escobar said some were sent to another facility on the north side of El Paso 
called Border Patrol Station 1. Escobar said it's a temporary site with 
roll-out mattresses, showers, medical facilities and air conditioning.

   But Clara Long, an attorney who interviewed children at Border Patrol 
Station 1 last week, said conditions were not necessarily better there.

   "One boy I spoke with said his family didn't get mattresses or blankets for 
the first two nights, and he and his mom came down with a fever," said Long, a 
senior researcher with Human Rights Watch. "He said there were no toothbrushes, 
and it was very, very cold."

   Vice President Mike Pence, asked about the unsafe, unsanitary conditions for 
the children on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, said "it's totally unacceptable," 
adding that he hopes Congress will allocate more resources to border security.

   Long and a group of 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. The lawyers negotiated 
access to the facility with officials and say Border Patrol knew the dates of 
their visit three weeks in advance.

   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.

   Government rules call for children to be held by the Border Patrol in their 
short-term stations for no longer than 72 hours before they are transferred to 
the custody of Health and Human Services, which houses migrant youth in 
facilities around the country through its Office of Refugee Resettlement while 
authorities determine if they can be released to relatives or family friends.

   Customs and Border Protection has referred AP's questions to the Office of 
Refugee Resettlement, which said Monday that 249 children who had been held at 
Clint would be moved to the agency's network of shelters and other facilities 
by Tuesday.

   "(Unaccompanied children) are waiting too long in CBP facilities that are 
not designed to care for children," ORR spokeswoman Evelyn Stauffer said. 
"These children should now all be in HHS care as of Tuesday."


(KA)

 
 
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