Republican claims migrant children held in squalid US detention centres are 'free to leave any time'

'There's not a lock on the door'

Clark Mindock
New York
Tuesday 25 June 2019 19:46 BST
Michael Burgess: Children in migrant camps are 'well taken care of and can leave whenever they like'

A Republican congressman has claimed that migrant children held in US detention facilities are “free to leave any time” but do not because they are well taken care of, following reports that hundreds of kids were removed from such a facility because of squalid conditions.

The claim was made by Michael Burgess, a Texan who said he visited a facility in his home state where children are held, and defended the treatment of children that Donald Trump’s administration has become known for.

“There’s not a lock on the door,” Mr Burgess said during an appearance on MSNBC. “Any child is free to leave any time. But they don’t and you know why? Because they’re well taken care of and, yes, at some point they are going to live with family, generally not mother or father, but some family member. That’s a good thing.”

The defence of the detention centres follows after US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was forced to remove more than 300 migrant children from a facility in Clint, Texas, after it was found they were living in extremely poor conditions.

At least 100 of those children were reportedly going to be sent back, according to CBP officials on Tuesday.

Those poor conditions were described by attorneys in the area, who said that the kids were not given proper food, water, or sanitation products or means in the facility.

A request for comment sent to CBP was not immediately returned.

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