At detention facilities, migrant children plead for basics: food, medicine, soap and a bit of solace

Posted at 9:12 AM, Jun 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 11:12:06-04

They describe migrant detention cells as cages. Teen mothers just want clean clothes for their babies. Others say their children need to see doctors.

A scared 5-year-old boy separated from his dad pleads for medicine for his cough.

Some detainees make the most basic requests: a blanket, toothbrush, soap, a bite to eat, somewhere to wash their hands. One boy says a modicum of solace would go a long way.

“I am in a room with dozens of other boys,” the 17-year-old told lawyers representing the migrant children. “Some have been as young as 3 or 4 years old. Some cry. Right now, there is a 12-year-old who cries a lot. Others try to comfort him. One of the officers makes fun of those who cry.”

These are a few stories gathered by lawyers for the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which is asking a federal judge to hold President Donald Trump’s administration in contempt and order immediate improvements at the child detention facilities.

The lawyers identified the children only by age and gender in most cases.

Though the lawsuit cites centers in El Paso, Texas, and the Rio Grande Valley, the lawyers’ batch of anecdotes include stories from a US Customs and Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas, and from the Clint, Texas, facility that reporters were allowed to tour Wednesday.

While Border Patrol officials showed the journalists pallets of food, boxes of toiletries and children playing soccer and braiding hair, a CBP source with firsthand knowledge of the facility told CNN, “Typical. The agency prepped for you guys.”

One 12-year-old boy’s story paints a far different portrait of conditions: “I’m hungry here at Clint all the time. I’m so hungry that I have woken up in the middle of the night with hunger. Sometimes I wake up from hunger at 4 a.m., sometimes at other hours.

“I’m too scared to ask the officials here for any more food, even though there is not enough food here for me.”