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Immigrants arrested near McAllen, Texas, June 4. Border Patrol Photo.

Following media reports of children being held for weeks in atrocious conditions at a Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, the government has removed the kids from that facility and taken them to a tent city in El Paso, NBC News reports. Lawyers who visited the detention center in Clint last week reported that children were sleeping on concrete floors, not allowed to shower for weeks at a time, and exposed to outbreaks of flu and lice. Toddlers were handed off to slightly older children to care for, and the babies weren't given changes of clothing. While the children have apparently been moved out of the windowless prefab warehouse where up to 300 were housed at Clint, the Department of Homeland Security source cited in the NBC story didn't indicate whether conditions at the new facility would be substantially different. All hail Trump the Merciful!

The Associated Press detailed the unsanitary, inhumane conditions at the Clint facility in reports last week, after attorneys came forward to speak out about what they saw. The team of attorneys are monitoring whether the government is meeting its legal obligations under the Flores settlement, the court case that set rules for treatment of undocumented minors -- and which the Trump administration has constantly been trying to weasel out of -- and took the unusual step of going to the media because conditions were so horrifying.

One of the attorneys, Warren Binford, told the New Yorker that the Clint facility wasn't even on the team's radar, because it was meant to hold about 100 adults but as of last week was holding more than 300 kids, most in a windowless warehouse. She said teenaged mothers who had small babies had shirts stained with breast milk, and that young children had pants full of excrement -- no diapers. Some kids said they had only showered or brushed their teeth once, following weeks of detention -- and that was only a day or so before the lawyers' visit. She added, "This facility knew last week that we were coming. The government knew three weeks ago that we were coming."

This is where we point out that children are only supposed to be held by the Border Patrol a maximum of 72 hours before being transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for placement with a sponsor -- usually a family member who's already in the USA. But the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the ORR, has slowed its approval of such placements, and its baby jails are already filled to capacity. Which is why the government is opening internment camps on military bases. Also, it doesn't help that ICE is arresting undocumented family members of those who DO apply to sponsor kids.


Binford explained what the children told her and other lawyers about toddlers and preschoolers being handed off to somewhat older children to care for:

The guards are asking the younger children or the older children, "Who wants to take care of this little boy? Who wants to take care of this little girl?" and they'll bring in a two-year-old, a three-year-old, a four-year-old. And then the littlest kids are expected to be taken care of by the older kids, but then some of the oldest children lose interest in it, and little children get handed off to other children. And sometimes we hear about the littlest children being alone by themselves on the floor.

Binford also saw a two-year-old boy who wasn't given a diaper. He had wet his pants, and his shirt was covered in snot. Three detained girls were looking after him the best they could, because there were no adults to do it. Binford was unable to find out any details about the baby from the Border Patrol. Maybe they should have questioned him more intensely.

Most kids at Clint, Binford said, were allowed two blankets -- "army blankets, those wool-type blankets that are really harsh" -- but no beds or mattress pads on the concrete floor. But not all the kids get two entire blankets, because what is this, the Trump International Hotel?

Some of the children are describing just being given one blanket and having to decide whether to put it under them or over them, because there is air-conditioning at this facility. And so they're having to make a choice about, Do I try to protect myself from the cement, or do I try to keep warm?

Lucky kids, getting to experience the Trump administration's interpretation of "safe and sanitary" conditions under Flores.

Here's an extended video interview with Ms. Binford, which covers nearly all the ground she discusses in the New Yorker piece.

“Somebody Is Going to Die": Lawyer Describes Chaos, Illness & Danger at Migrant Child Jail in Texas www.youtube.com

One constant in all the reporting is that, of the more than 50 kids interviewed by the lawyers, many said they had crossed the border with a parent or adult relative like an aunt or uncle, but were taken away from the adults once the families turned themselves in and asked for asylum. Get ready for the government to insist, as it has for years, that in every single one of these cases they suspected the adult relatives were evil human traffickers, so they simply HAD to take the babies away. Family separation is back, but not announced, because this government doesn't have to tell you people anything.

But now the kids have been removed from the Clint facility, so everything is fine, right? You bet -- except for kids experiencing terrible conditions at OTHER Border Patrol facilities, like the detention center at McAllen, Texas, as described by another attorney, Toby Gialluca, who told the Texas Tribune immigrant mothers complained the water at the jail "tastes like bleach" and "was so bad that the mothers would save any bottled water they could get and use that to mix the baby formula."

Gialluca said the migrants, all from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, told her they aren't receiving proper medical care and children don't have enough clean clothes. Unable to clean themselves, young mothers reported wiping their children's runny noses or vomit with their own clothing, Gialluca said. There aren't sufficient cups or baby bottles, so many are reused or shared.

"Basic hygiene just doesn't exist there," Gialluca said. "It's a health crisis ... a manufactured health crisis," she said.

Another attorney, Hope Frye, described to NBC News a 17-year-old Guatemalan mother at the McAllen facility. The girl had given birth prematurely via a C-section at a Mexican hospital, but was being held in the general population even though she was in a wheelchair. Because what part of "illegal" don't you libs understand?

When Frye met her, she was "caked with dirt" and neither she nor her baby had showered since arriving, she said.

Frye said she took a tissue to clean the baby and wiped off "black dirt from her neck."

Frye described the baby as looking weak and said the mother told her she had stopped thriving while at the facility.

Frye said she felt she had no choice but to come forward to tell the young mother's story. The teen and her baby have since been released from Border Patrol custody.

"She told me she believed if they did not get out, her baby would die," she said. "There is no question in my mind that it was the extreme love of this 17-year-old mother that kept that baby alive."

Frye added that after the team's visit to the McAllen facility, it sent a doctor to check on the kids, and six children were eventually hospitalized.

The Border Patrol keeps insisting it's doing the very best it can with its limited funds, but you know what we're not seeing in any of the reporting on kids being transferred out of Clint? Not a single word about adult care for very young children being provided at the new locations, and not a single word about children getting showers, decent food, or adequate housing. But at least the one bad place the media focused on isn't holding children anymore, so please stop complaining, OK?

Update: The Washington Post reports that, because ORR is out of shelter space, 100 of the kids will be moved back to the facility in Clint. Look on the bright side: the standard of care is routinely terrible across all the Border Patrol's facilities, so it's difficult to say whether this is a "bad" thing. It's ALL a bad thing.

[NBC News / Associated Press-NBC / AP / New Yorker / CNN / Texas Tribune / KLEW-TV / Photo: US Customs and Border Protection / Update: WaPo]

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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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