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The Associated Press reports that even as lawyers found children in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions at a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, last week, the government's baby jail system had at least 500 beds available, according to government documents. Remember, we were being told the overcrowding and lack of safe and sanitary conditions at that processing station and others were all due to the lack of space in shelters, and that lack of space was due to terrible Democrats who refuse to give Donald Trump "emergency" funding if there are limits on cruelty attached. This, as we have been saying, is bullshit, so let's say it A LITTLE LOUDER.

The more than 200 children being held at the Clint border station -- before being removed, then some of them were moved back -- had been held far longer than the 72 hours kids are supposed to be held by the Border Patrol before being placed in facilities overseen by Health and Human Services. But there were open beds in those HHS baby jails:


The records show that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had beds available in facilities in several states, including Texas, Arizona, and California. In total, the network on June 17 had 512 open beds in shelters. A few days later, it had 402 shelter beds.

Meanwhile, some 250 infants, children, and teenagers were detained in Clint, Texas, for up to 27 days. Lawyers who visited the facility told The Associated Press they had inadequate food, water and sanitation and at least 15 children had the flu. Some were fed uncooked frozen food or rice and had gone weeks without bathing.

Yes, we know, this is your shocked face. Immigration experts told the AP this is not the least bit surprising, and that OF COURSE Customs and Border Protection wasn't getting information from HHS about open beds.

Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center, questioned whether government agencies were sharing information as well as they could.

"This administration has not chosen to devote time, energy, or resources, to make sure the agencies communicate and share information with each other when it's in the best interest of the children," Altman said. "We have long known that the choice to hold children in deplorable conditions and to delay transfer out of (Border Patrol) processing was never really about the money."

We'd go farther than Ms. Altman. The chaos is part of the design here, just as it was during the Family Separation policy that never really ended. Warren Binford, one of the lawyers who interviewed kids held at the Clint facility reported to the New Yorker there was no need to treat these kids as "unaccompanied" minors in the first goddamn place:

We met almost no children who came across unaccompanied. The United States is taking children away from their family unit and reclassifying them as unaccompanied children. But they were not unaccompanied children. And some of them were separated from their parents.

That has nothing to do with the number of people coming to the border, which has increased in recent months -- particularly after Trump started demanding that asylum be largely ended. Taking kids away from adults and keeping them in jail for longer than the law allows isn't a side effect of a crush of immigration, it's a goddamned policy.

As for HHS and its insistence that its baby jails need more money to cope with the "flood" of migrants, that's largely bullshit too. Again, immigration is up. But the overcrowded baby jails are the result of deliberate slowdowns in releasing kids to sponsors in the US. It's politically useful to have crowded baby jails, because OH LOOK AT THE CRISIS, WE MUST ELIMINATE ASYLUM AND GET MORE MONEY FOR THE CONTRACTORS. Remember, America has had higher numbers of immigrants in the past. But we never before had a "president" whose entire immigration machinery was aimed at jailing every single asylum seeker until their cases are resolved.

The latest Fox News talking point is pure bad faith bullshit: "Wait, I thought the border was a 'manufactured crisis.' But now Democrats admit there really is a crisis in the overcrowded border facilities? What a bunch of hypocrites! They need to fix this by outlawing asylum, building WALL, and deporting everyone, the hypocrites!"

That's bullshit. Yes, there's a crisis. Donald Trump built it by demanding we fill the jails and camps with people fleeing horrible conditions in Central America, and now that the jails and camps are full, we need money for MORE JAILS AND CAMPS.

Since the other Fox/Trump talking point insists, "Oh yeah? Well Barack Obama had baby jails TOO," let's take a look at how Obama's administration dealt with the influx of unaccompanied Central American kids in 2014-15. Yes, the answer has to include "badly," we won't dispute that. But Obama didn't try to build a permanent network of permanently filled immigration jails. When Fort Sill, Oklahoma, was used to temporarily house unaccompanied minors in 2014, it truly was a temporary site, and it closed after two months. Sponsors for the kids were found, and they were released. By contrast, HHS's detention center in Homestead, Florida -- the one making serious bank for the for-profit company that runs it -- has been running since early 2018, and was expanded in December -- even before the number of apprehensions at the border increased this spring. And now HHS is opening more and more of the things, even as kids are held for months and months.

Please don't give us any shit about this being a crisis that arose out of nowhere. This is a very useful crisis to the Trump administration, and it's likely to get worse in the name of ending immigration.

[AP at Houston Chronicle / New Yorker]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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