Thousands of people are placed in a dark web of about 200 facilities, including five shelters, some without adequate supervision
new York- The Associated Press found that thousands of underage immigrants seeking asylum in the Joe Biden administration are in a dark web of 200 facilities spread across two states, including five shelters, including More than 1,000 children were squeezed into the cramped space.
Confidential information obtained by the Associated Press indicates that the number of minors detained by the government has more than doubled in the past two months, and this week the government has taken in approximately 21,000 minors, from children aged one or two. To teenagers. On Monday, there were more than 4,500 minors in an Army installation at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.
Lawyers, activists and mental health experts say that some shelters are safe and provide proper care, but other shelters have compromised the health and safety of children.
Luz Lopez, a lawyer at the Southern Poverty Law Center, declared: “It’s almost like’Groundhog Day’, alluding to the 1993 movie, and the events in it seem to be repeated. “We are almost back to the beginning, the government Taxpayers’ money is being used to build large shelters for children…instead of using the money to find ways to reunite children with their sponsors more quickly. “
Department of Health and Human Services (DSSH) spokesperson Mark Weber (Mark Weber) said that the staff and contractors of the department are working hard to ensure the safety and health of minors.
Biden and others have been criticized by the Trump administration, and some of their current practices are the same, including the failure to thoroughly investigate staff serving children through the FBI’s fingerprints. At the same time, legal documents show that the government is trying to resolve multi-million dollar lawsuits, according to which minor immigrants have been abused under the Trump administration.
Part of the government’s plan to deal with thousands of minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, including twelve emergency facilities at military bases, stadiums, and convention centers that serve minors without permission, without or without Traditional legal supervision.
In facilities called emergency shelters, there is no guarantee that children will receive education, recreational opportunities, or legal advice.
In a recent statement, the government emphasized “recovering the policy for unaccompanied minors” and has been publishing daily figures of minors, which are detained by the government, and provide some information about the facilities they live in. Photo. Compared with the Trump administration, this represents greater transparency. According to DSSH data, today’s children spend an average of one month under government custody, compared to four months last fall (in the northern hemisphere, the fourth quarter of the year).
However, according to an official who has no right to discuss the issue in public and requested anonymity, the agency received reports of abuses this year that led to the dismissal of several contractors this year.
Some lawyers say that sometimes parents cannot determine the location of their children.
José left Salvador (Saalador) after the massacre in the town and filed for asylum in the United States four years ago. He had hoped to be reunited with his wife and daughter in Southern California this year, but the two were deported back to Mexico after crossing the border in March. The little girl traversed alone again and was placed in a shelter in Brownsville, Texas on April 6. José called the government’s special hotline, which has dealt with issues related to underage immigrants many times, but no one can tell him where the girl is.
José said: “I am very frustrated because I keep calling me and no one tells me her identity.” José was afraid of complicating his immigration situation and asked to be identified only by his name. “Finally, they told me that I had to pay $1,300 to pay for the airfare. If I didn’t pay, I would have to wait another month. That made me very nervous.
After a group of militants intervened and allowed the government to take over the air tickets, his daughter was detained at the Brownsville factory for nearly three weeks before being handed over to her father in late April.
DSSH declined to disclose whether there are regulations governing the care of minors in emergency locations or whether it supervises these centers. When minors were brought to these facilities, the Biden administration had very limited access to the media, which was attributed to the coronavirus pandemic and privacy issues.
The agency spokesperson Weber said in a statement: “DSSH has been processed as soon as possible to increase capacity and ensure that potential guarantors can provide safe accommodation, while minors are responsible for immigration procedures.” “There is hardly anything available. New services-on-site medical services, including immunization and physical examinations, case managers, phone calls to family members, education, entertainment, etc.-due to the presence of infrastructure and additional personnel, they can be used “to minors.”
Weber confirmed the number of minors detained by the government for the Associated Press.
One of the concerns of human rights activists is the shelters that house many minors. These shelters have hundreds of beds. These facilities can make children feel isolated, unattended and lack of basic services. The Associated Press found that half of the detained minors were sleeping in shelters with more than 1,000 children. More than 17,650 of the facilities with more than 100 minors are in use. Some shelters and foster family programs are very small, consisting of a house with a few children. A large facility in Houston suddenly closed last month because children were found unable to use the bathroom and used plastic bags to rescue themselves.
Amy Cohen, a child psychiatrist of the non-profit organization Every, said: “The system is malfunctioning and it’s getting worse.” Finally. First, assist Central American immigrant families fleeing violence. Although minor immigrants have been here for many years, Cohen said he has never seen a situation as bad as today.
He pointed out that some parents received calls from unknown people and told them that they must show up at the airport or bus terminal within the next two hours to receive their children who have been detained for more than a month. Do not provide information on their whereabouts, otherwise they will not be released. He added that some people have been told they must pay thousands of dollars to travel agencies so that their children can travel.
“The boy got sick, got lice, got COVID. As we saw in the Trump era, I wouldn’t be surprised to see children die as a result,” Cohen said. The Biden administration eagerly opened these temporary detention centers, many of which have no experience in handling minors. “
One of the reasons why so many children arrive without their parents is the Trump administration’s emergency decree last year, which basically prohibited the opening of the border with Mexico to immigrants due to COVID-19.
The measure is still effective for adults, but the Biden government allows unaccompanied minors to seek asylum. Many parents decide to send their children across the border alone.
Most people have parents or other adult relatives or family friends who are called guarantors and are willing to accept them. But first, they are still kept by the Customs and Border Protection Agency, and then sent to government shelters.
Attorneys at the National Youth Law Center said: “It is unacceptable to detain minors for a few days at the Customs and Border Protection Bureau, just like letting them stay in emergency accommodation for several weeks without permission.” “With With the passage of time, it has become particularly important to hand over these children to sponsors or to licensed sites.”
Throughout 2019, the federal government held nearly 70,000 minors in contract shelters, mass detention centers, and foster family networks. This number is expected to be even higher this year.
Some facilities currently housing minors are operated by contractors who have been prosecuted for the physical and sexual abuse of minors under the Trump administration. Others are start-up companies and have no experience in handling minor immigrants. In total, emergency facilities can accommodate nearly 18,000 minors.
Jennifer Podkul, vice president of “Children in Need of Asylum,” said: “There are many problems with whether there are rules for shelters, ensuring that shelters are respected, and transparency and accountability.”
The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project is one of several organizations that sued the federal government and demanded millions of dollars in compensation from parents who said their children were abused under government custody after they separated at the border under the Trump administration. . Some families stated that their children were physically and sexually abused by the government in private detention facilities and foster families.
Conchita Cruz, co-executive director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, said: “If these children can come with their parents, they can be handed over to their parents instead of being detained by the government.” “The current government should suspend current policies for the sake of families. Can apply for asylum together.”
The Justice Department defended the government in these lawsuits, which were filed under the leadership of the Trump administration in 2019. But since Biden took office, the federal government has reacted differently. Some cases continue to be clarified in court, while others are seeking out-of-court settlement.
In a recent case, government lawyers admitted that these policies caused harm to minors.
“President Biden condemned the human tragedies that occurred because our immigration laws were used to deliberately separate minors from their parents or legal guardians…including through the use of the’zero tolerance policy’ during Trump’s administration,” a judicial lawyer The department said in a written statement.
The judge in the case accepted the joint request and shelved the case, “it is up to the parties to seek an out-of-court settlement.”
Podkul said: “We need to ensure that these new structures are fully supervised and transparent, and that children can go out.” The organization of this organization informs minors of their rights in emergency shelters. “If boys are detained for more than 48 hours, they must know what will happen.”
As for the eight-year-old child, her father José said that she is adjusting to life in Los Angeles, likes to play with her brother, and gradually relax.
He said: “He kept asking me questions about his mother. I told him not to worry. She is in Mexico. She is fine.” “I hope he can tell me where he lives there as soon as possible.”