Horrifying Conditions At Child Detention Centers & Continuing Family Separations Must End NOW
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Children forcibly separated from their families and detained at our border are living in squalor and fear.
Despite public outcry and court orders, children are still being separated from their families at the U.S. border. After being forcibly removed from their families, they face horrifying conditions in overcrowded internment camps and lasting psychological trauma. This unconscionable child abuse must end.
In June of 2019, lawyers visited facilities for children and teenage migrants as recommended by the Flores settlement1. These lawyers were so horrified by the conditions they found that they took the unusual step of sharing their findings with the media. What they described was the stuff of nightmares.
Mismanaged facilities forced children to sleep on concrete floors, some with a single blanket or no blanket at all. Bathrooms were replete with refuse and mold. Unsanitary food storage and preparation areas were photographed; in one, a raw chicken was leaking blood openly in a refrigeration unit. Soap and toothbrushes were not available, and children wore unwashed clothes rife with filth. Older children were tasked with caring for young children without adult support.2,3 The children "are locked in their cells and cages nearly all day long," according to one of the lawyers present.4
In June of 2018, a ruling in a lawsuit the ACLU filed ordered an end to routine family separations5. The recent report by these lawyers indicates that separations are continuing unabated. Even as the lawyers reached out to the media, a representative of the Trump Administration appealed vital elements of the Flores agreement, stating that it wasn't their responsibility to provide toothbrushes, soap, or adequate bedding.6
The President and CEO of the American Psychological Association, J.Daniel, PhD., and A. Evans, Ph. D., stated in a letter7 to President Trump dated June 14, 2018: "For children, traumatic events can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health disorders that can cause long lasting effects." More recently, U.S. Representative Ocasio-Cortez made a controversial statement comparing the detention centers to concentration camps.8 Actor George Takei, who was placed in two internment camps for Japanese-Americans in the U.S. as a child, supported her description, saying, "I know what concentration camps are. I was inside two of them, in America. And yes, we are operating such camps again."9
The overtly cruel and abusive treatment of children at our border must stop. The trauma these children and their families experience cannot fail to touch the hearts of patriotic Americans. It is against everything this great nation stands for. Tell President Trump that unnecessary child separation and internment must end now.
- The Flores Settlement Agreement, January 17, 1997
- The 'There Is a Stench': No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children, The New York Times, June 21, 2019
- Children Cannot Parent Other Children, The Atlantic, June 24, 2019
- Inside a Texas Building Where the Government Is Holding Immigrant Children, The New Yorker, June 22, 2019
- ICE releases mother it detained for months far away from 7-year-old daughter, The Washington Post, March 7, 2018
- Are US child migrant detainees entitled to soap and beds? BBC News, June 20, 2019
- Letter To President Trump From The American Psychological Association, June 14, 2018
- Academics Rally Behind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Over Concentration Camp Comments: 'She Is Completely Historically Accurate", Newsweek, June 24, 2019
- Statement from George Takei Regarding Border Detention Camps, June 18, 2019
George Takei Doesn't Want Us To Forget The Last Time The U.S. Put People in Detention Camps, Washington Post, July 16, 2019
Dear President Trump:
There is a crisis of our own making at the border between the United States and Mexico. Our policy of separating children from their families and housing them in overcrowded detention centers is causing irreparable harm. These families entered our great nation in search of safety, a better life, and the promise of hope. Now, they face physical and psychological trauma at the hands of our nation.
In June of 2019, long after the policy of child separation had been ended, lawyers acting as recommended by the Flores settlement visited some of our child detention facilities. What they found was horrifying. Crowded facilities set children to sleep on concrete floors with lights blaring all night. The bathrooms were unsanitary, as were the kitchens. There was an inadequate supply of hygiene items including soap and toothbrushes, and these children were wearing clothing that hadn't been washed and were rife with filth. Young children weren't being cared for by adult experts - instead older children were tasked with the job, many of whom had no experience, no support, and no supplies.
Many experts have expressed that these conditions are illegal, and that they cause longstanding trauma to children and their families. Regardless of the politics involved, we must consider the welfare of these innocent children who are not here by their own choice. The terrible living conditions, extended incarceration, and forcible separation from their parents will inflict enduring psychological harm that will affect them for their entire lives. We think you'll agree that this abusive treatment is against everything the patriotic citizens of our great nation stand for. You have the power to end it.
President Trump, we call on you to end this outrage. Stop border agents from needlessly separating children from their families. Ensure open and transparent oversight of immigrant detention centers, and provide the basic food, care, and sanitary resources that every human being should be entitled to. You can make America great again starting right now, by living up to our ideals and stopping needless pain and suffering for these innocent children.