- Migrant children in US detention centres are held to strict rules, including not being allowed to touch each other or write letters, according to a report from The New York Times.
- Children in some facilities are reportedly woken up early to clean bathrooms before several hours of schooling.
- Children who have acted up have been physically handled or injected with sedatives by employees, according to those who were in the facilities.
Leticia wanted to comfort her younger brother after they were separated from their mother at the US border but she was not allowed to touch him.
Leticia, 12, and her 10-year-old brother Walter are migrants from Guatemala who were placed in detention facilities after being separated from their family as part of President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, according to The New York Times.
Children in the over 100 holding facilities have to adhere to strict rules. The Times reported that one rule Leticia had to abide by in her Texas facility was that you cannot touch another child, even if they were your little brother or sister.
The rule often meant that children had to resort to hugging themselves. An employee at a different Texas facility told The Times that when children get sad, “you’ll see them sit on the floor and just kind of wrap their arms around themselves.”
Diego is a 10-year-old Brazilian boy who was released from a Chicago facility after 43 days. Upon his departure, Diego made sure to say goodbye to another child he had become friends with. He told The Times that he didn’t hug his friend because of the no touching policy.
Diego also said that running was prohibited at his facility, and the report said some facilities said children were not allowed to cry because it may hurt their cases.
In the Chicago facility Diego was at, the boys had to wake up at 6:30 on weekdays and clean the bathrooms. Throwing fits and acting out were also not allowed. In one case Diego mentioned, a younger boy who threw things and had fits needed to be injected with sedatives, the report said.
Another young boy told The Times about the only moment when he became upset at his holding facility. After an outdoor play session, the boy refused to go inside, so two men “grabbed him by the arms and dragged him into the house.”
Children in the holding facilities are also not allowed to write or send mail. When Leticia was detained, she would write letters to her mother even though writing in dorm rooms was against the rules. She would sneakily write a letter after finishing a maths worksheet to not get caught. Leticia then collected each letter in a folder to give to her mother once they were reunited.
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