Border officials had to be forced into hospitalizing four toddlers that were dying on their watch
Attorneys made Border Patrol officials hospitalize four severely sick migrant toddlers—including a “completely unresponsive” girl who was so sick that her “eyes were rolled back in her head”—following a recent inspection of a detention facility in McAllen, Texas. “The children, all under age 3 with teenage mothers or guardians, were feverish, coughing, vomiting and had diarrhea, immigration attorneys told HuffPost on Friday. Some of the toddlers and infants were refusing to eat or drink.”
The children were hospitalized only because the attorneys, who had been inspecting a number of border facilities as part of the Flores Agreement, forced detention officials to do it; and this is the same location where attorneys found that officials had been jailing another sick child, a prematurely born one-month-old infant, and her 17-year-old mother for days. They were released from the facility only because attorneys and advocates raised hell.
These kids would very likely have been dead had attorneys and advocates not intervened. Children have already died in immigration custody, and rather than taking swift steps to prioritize the well-being of children in U.S. custody, officials appear to be letting conditions for them deteriorate. “It’s intentional disregard for the well-being of children,” said attorney Toby Gialluca. “The guards continue to dehumanize these people and treat them worse than we would treat animals.”
In another incident cited by New York magazine, attorney Warren Binford said border officials treated a lice outbreak among children jailed at a Clint, Texas, border facility by giving them two combs to share, “something you never do with a lice outbreak.” When the children lost one of the combs, Binford said, “Border Patrol agents got so mad that they took away the children’s blankets and mats. They weren’t allowed to sleep on the beds, and they had to sleep on the floor on Wednesday night as punishment for losing the comb.”
They punished them for losing a comb by taking away their blankets and sleeping mats. Immigrant rights advocates knew from the first day of Donald Trump’s campaign announcement what his presidency could mean for immigrant communities, but the cruelty has stretched far beyond the imaginable, such as an administration attorney saying kids shouldn’t even be able to have a fucking toothbrush. This has gone beyond neglect. These are human rights abuses, and they’re being committed against innocent children by the United States government.