United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is turning away donations of toys, toothbrushes, soap, diapers and medicine for migrant children housed on the border, the Texas Tribune reported Monday.
Texas state Rep. Terry Canales (D) tweeted a letter Saturday he wrote to CBP, offering “the full support of the Rio Grande Valley community” to care for migrant children in custody.
He told the Tribune that Border Patrol officials told his office they do not accept donations of any kind.
“The whole situation is disgusting, but I’m always hopeful that the better part of us as human beings will shine through,” Canales said. “Those children feel like the world has given up on them, and we have to fight for them.”
I just send this letter to RGV Border Patrol to ask for a list of items that we can donate to help the children in over-crowded detention centers. The feds are often too slow to act, and I want to personally reach out to offer the full support of the RGV & Texas. #RGV #Txlege pic.twitter.com/OWMCOwcvju
— Terry Canales (@TerryCanales40) June 22, 2019
From sleeping on “freezing” concrete floors with the lights on 24 hours a day to being denied access to basic hygiene products like soap and toothbrushes, hundreds of migrant children being held in at least two CBP facilities are facing conditions one doctor described as comparable to “torture facilities.”
Warren Binford, a law professor at Willamette University, shared her firsthand account detailing the grave conditions she saw during a recent visit to a Texas migrant detention facility where 250 infants, children and teenagers were being held without adequate food, water or sanitation:
“Basically, what we saw are dirty children who are malnourished, who are being severely neglected. They are being kept in inhumane conditions. They are essentially being warehoused, as many as 300 children in a cell, with almost no adult supervision.
We have children caring for other young children. For example, we saw a little boy in diapers — or he had no diapers on. He should have had a diaper on. He was 2 years old. And when I was asked why he didn’t have diapers on, I was told he didn’t need it.
He immediately urinated. And he was in the care of another child. Children cannot take care of children, and yet that’s how they are trying to run this facility. The children are hardly being fed anything nutritious, and they are being medically neglected.
We’re seeing a flu outbreak, and we’re also seeing a lice infestation. It is — we have children sleeping on the floor. It’s the worst conditions I have ever witnessed in several years of doing these inspections.”
Almost none of the children that we interviewed had come across the border themselves alone. Essentially, they came across the border with family. And they are trying to be reunited with family who are living in the United States. Almost every child that I interviewed had family, parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, siblings here in the United States who are waiting for them and are ready to care for them.
“The conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities,” wrote physician, Dolly Lucio Sevier, in a medical declaration after his visit last week to border patrol holding facilities in Clint, Texas, and McAllen, a city in the southern part of the state.
At least six migrant children have died in U.S. custody in the last eight months.
Gabriel Acuña, a resident of Clint, Texas, said he attempted to visit migrant children in a Border Patrol facility in the city and bring them soap and other sanitary products Sunday.
“It makes me feel powerless knowing there’s children taking care of toddlers and little kids,” Acuña told The Texas Tribune. “Knowing what’s happening in your community and that you can’t give these kids supplies to clean or clothe themselves — it’s heartbreaking.”
“If the government isn’t going to do anything, then let the community help and do something for these kids,” Acuña continued.