About 100 of the more than 300 migrant children who were moved Monday from a detention facility where conditions had been described as “unconscionable” were moved back to the camp on Tuesday. Around the same time, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders, whose agency runs the much-criticized operation housing migrant children who have been separated from their parents, announced his resignation.
On Monday, Rep. Veronica Escobar — who represents the El Paso, Texas, area — said that the government had moved most of the children from a facility in the small town of Clint, Texas, that housed migrants as young as a few months old. Over the last week, there have been reports from lawyers and physicians who visited the camps that many of the children were dirty, some of them ill, and that young children were being left in the care of detainees themselves, sometimes only 8 years old.
11 PHOTOSCustoms and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenanSee GalleryCustoms and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenanCustoms and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan is sworn in before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on ‘Oversight of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’ on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan (R), holds a meeting at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Centre in Sterling, Virginia, U.S. February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan ErnstEl comisionado de la Oficina de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza, Kevin McAleenan, testifica en la audiencia de la Comisión de Asuntos Judiciales del Senado sobre “Supervisión de la Oficina de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza”, en el Capitolio el martes 11 de diciembre de 2018 en Washington. (AP Foto/Manuel Balce Ceneta)U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Kevin McAleenan, the Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, visit U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall in the El Centro Sector in Calexico, California, U.S. October 26, 2018.REUTERS/Earnie GraftonEl comisionado de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza, Kevin McAleenan, derecha, escucha al jefe del comando norte, general Terrence O’Shaughnessy, en conferencia de prensa en Washington, 29 de octubre de 2018. El Pentágono se apresta a enviar 5.200 efectivos a la frontera con México. (AP Foto/Susan Walsh)Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on ‘Oversight of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’ on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, right, speaks as Commander of United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command Gen. Terrence John O’Shaughnessy, left, listens during a news conference in Washington, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, on the Department of Defense deployment to the Southwest border. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, talks with reporters at the U.S. Border Patrol Central Processing Center, Monday, June 25, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan speaks at a roundtable during an event to salute U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan arrives at a news conference on the Department of Defense’s plan to deploy of forces to the Southwest border at U.S. Customs & Border Protection headquarters in Washington, U.S., October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan ErnstU.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen listens to Kevin McAleenan, the Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol during her visit to the border wall in the El Centro Sector in Calexico, California, U.S. October 26, 2018.REUTERS/Earnie GraftonUp Next
“The kids had colds and were sick and said they didn’t have access to soap to wash their hands. It was an alcohol-based cleanser. Some kids who were detained for two to three weeks had only one or two opportunities to shower,” Clara Long, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, has said of the Clint facility. Attempts by Clint locals to donate supplies to the facility were rejected, per a Texas Tribune report.
“Congress should urgently investigate and take action to stop these unconscionable abuses, such as requiring immigration agencies to release these children as soon as possible to their family members,” added Long.
On Tuesday, CNN reported that 100 of the children who had been temporarily relocated to an unspecified facility were moving back.
Customs and Border Protection commissioner John Sanders did not specifically mention the deteriorating conditions at border camps in his resignation letter, writing that he encouraged “everyone to reflect on all that you have accomplished as a team. My hope is you build upon your accomplishments and embrace new opportunities, remain flexible, and continue to make CBP extraordinary.” He wrote that he would serve through July 5.
Sanders has led the organization since April, when then-CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan was elevated to acting Department of Homeland Security secretary, replacing the departing Kirstjen Nielsen.
Sanders acknowledged in an interview with the Associated Press earlier this month that children needed better medical care, and urged Congress to pass an emergency funding package that would include $3 billion to care for unaccompanied children. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have blamed Congress for the conditions.
However, in a call Tuesday, a CBP official disputed the lawyers’ accounts and said the children housed there were given periodic access to showers and unlimited snacks.
“I personally don’t believe these allegations,” said the CBP official, who spoke on the condition he not be identified, per the New York Times.
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