Democrat lawmaker leaks ‘terrible’ photos taken inside border camp

Democrat says border patrol stations are ‘terrible conditions for the children

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 22 March 2021 15:02
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Axios Report Says 800+ Children Held By CBP For More Than 10 Days
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Democratic Texas House Representative Henry Cuellar leaked has photos from inside a US Customs and Border Protection temporary overflow facility in Donna, Texas, showing the crowded conditions migrants live in.

Mr Cuellar provided the photos to Axios to highlight a situation the Biden administration has been hesitant to allow the media to cover from inside government facilities. Thhe images show people sleeping on mats on the ground in the improvised facility as the more longer-term shelters and detention centres have been filled.

The Texas Democrat told Axios about the significant overcrowding, with each area that is supposed to hold only up to 260 people, holding as many as 400 unaccompanied male minors as of Sunday.

Mr Cuellar recently visited a shelter for children but didn't himself tour the facility that the images are from. He said the photos, not taken by him, were captured over the weekend.

He told Axios that they were "terrible conditions for the children" and that they needed to be taken into the care of the Department of Health and Human Services more quickly.

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He added that border patrol is "doing the best they can under the circumstances" but added that they are "not equipped to care for kids" and that they "need help from the administration".

He said: "We have to stop kids and families from making the dangerous trek across Mexico to come to the United States. We have to work with Mexico and Central American countries to have them apply for asylum in their countries."

Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said: “I have said repeatedly from the very outset a Border Patrol station is no place for a child. That is why we are working around the clock to move these children out of the Border Patrol facilities into the care and custody of the Department of Health and Human Services that shelters them.”

On MSNBC, he was asked why children were allowed to cross the border when it’s supposed to be closed because of the pandemic. Mr Mayorkas said: "We are not expelling children, girls, 5, 7, 9 years old back into the desert of Mexico, back into the hands of traffickers.”

Facilities at the border have reached capacity under Covid-19 guidelines, and the Rio Grande Valley, where Donna is located, hos gone over its limits even for normal conditions.

Almost half of all the 10.000 migrants in CBP custody as of Saturday were unaccompanied minors. Thousands of them have waited for more than three days in the border patrol facilities, according to Axios. The outlet also reported Sunday that 823 unaccompanied migrant children have spent more than 10 days in Border Patrol custody, according to a leaked internal DHS document.

Three days is the legal limit within which they should be moved to a longer-term facility.

The Independent has reached out to CBP for comment.

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