The government is moving migrant children back into the Texas Border Patrol station where lawyers say kids were deprived of food and forced to take care of each other

  • The US government is moving migrant children back into a Texas Border Patrol station where lawyers documented inhumane and unsanitary conditions for children.
  • Lawyers who visited the Clint Border Patrol station last week found a number of migrant children caring for one another, including an 8-year-old looking after a 4-year-old.
  • Lawyers told the Associated Press and The New York Times the facility’s conditions were dire, with many children sick, or deprived of adequate food and basic hygiene.
  • The children had no access to toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, showers, or a change of clothes, the lawyers said.
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A Border Patrol station that sparked public outrage for its dire conditions has already begun housing migrant children again, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told INSIDER.

Hundreds of children were transferred out of the facility earlier this week after reports emerged that the kids detained there struggled to care for each other, and often lacked adequate food and basic hygiene, according to lawyers who have visited the children.

The CBP spokesperson said that since so many children were being transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services in recent days, the Clint Border Patrol Station had to be used as the “consolidated [unaccompanied children] holding facility to streamline transfer to HHS and accommodate separate holding areas based on age and gender.”

Lawyers have documented disturbing conditions at Clint

In the Clint facility, near El Paso, Texas, lawyers documented a number of disturbing details, including an 8-year-old trying to look after a 4-year-old with matted hair, law professor Warren Binford told the Associated Press.

The 4-year-old refused to take a shower, and the 8-year-old didn’t know how to convince the young child, Binford said.

Read more: Teens taking care of toddlers, children eating uncooked food, and an outbreak of the flu: Lawyers report dire conditions at a Texas Border Patrol station where migrant children are being held

Migrant children border patrol el paso
Detained migrants wait to be transported by the U.S. Border Patrol at the border of the United States and Mexico on March 31, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

In the same facility, a 14-year-old Guatemalan girl told the lawyers she had been taking care of two little girls and holding them in her lap, but that she didn’t have anyone looking out for her.

“I need comfort, too,” the girl told the lawyers, according to the Associated Press. “I am bigger than they are, but I am a child, too.”

Teams of lawyers have been touring US border facilities to interview migrants and document how the US government has been treating detained children, and whether that treatment complies with legal standards.

‘Inhumane conditions for children’

Lawyers also reported that the children they observed detained at Clint were wearing clothes soiled with snot and tears, and that toddlers were not given diapers and forced to wet themselves in their clothing.

The children had no access to toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, showers, or a change of clothes, the lawyers told The New York Times.

Many of the children in Clint arrived at the border unaccompanied, and were waiting to be transferred to a government-run shelter where they’d eventually be connected with a family member. But lawyers said some of the children were also separated from parents or adult caregivers they had arrived with.

Rep. Veronica Escobar, whose district includes the Clint facility, wrote a letter to two top Customs and Border Protection officials last Friday, demanding answers about the 255 children who were detained at Clint as recently as last week.

Read more: A ‘minuscule’ premature newborn found in crowded border patrol facility in Texas

“[Fifty-nine] are under the age of 12, many children have been held in custody for nearly a month in violation of the Flores settlement agreement; and older children are caring for the younger children,” Escobar wrote.

She went on to ask, “How is it possible that you both were unaware of the inhumane conditions for children, especially tender-age children at the Clint station?”