Girl re­calls poor care in Texas bor­der sta­tion

The Saline Courier - - NEWS -

For al­most two weeks, a 12-year-old mi­grant girl said she and her 6-year-old sis­ter were held in­side a Bor­der Pa­trol sta­tion in Texas where they slept on the floor and some chil­dren were locked away when they cried for their par­ents.

She was one of hun­dreds of mi­grant chil­dren who have been held this year in hold­ing cells at a U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion sta­tion near El Paso that has come un­der fire for hold­ing chil­dren in squalid and un­san­i­tary con­di­tions.

In a video ob­tained by

The As­so­ci­ated Press, the girl — speak­ing in Span­ish — tells her Min­nesota-based at­tor­ney Ali­son Grif­fith chil­dren were “treated badly” and were not al­lowed to play or bathe. The girl’s face is not vis­i­ble on the video to pro­tect her pri­vacy and not jeop­ar­dize her im­mi­gra­tion case.

El Paso, Texas, at­tor­ney Tay­lor Levy, who worked with the girl’s fam­ily, said she and her sis­ter were sep­a­rated from their aunt when they ar­rived in the U.S. on May 23. The chil­dren, from Cen­tral Amer­ica, were put in the Bor­der Pa­trol sta­tion in Clint, Texas, Levy said. Their aunt is still be­ing de­tained.

Levy said the girls’ mother fled an abu­sive hus­band and ar­rived in the U.S. four years ago. She has ap­plied for asy­lum. The girls stayed be­hind with their aunt, but the three headed north in May af­ter the girls’ fa­ther threat­ened them, Levy said.

In the video, the girl says that in­side the Clint sta­tion, she was given pud­ding, juice and a bur­rito she could not eat “be­cause it tasted very bad.”

“There are some chil­dren, like the age of my sis­ter, they cried for their mother or their fa­ther. They cried for their aunt. They missed them,” she said. “They cried and they were locked up.”

The at­tor­neys dis­cussed the case on the con­di­tion that the AP not re­lease the girl’s name or her coun­try of ori­gin out of con­cern for her fam­ily’s safety.

Lawyers who vis­ited the Clint fa­cil­ity last month af­ter the girls had al­ready been re­leased said the con­di­tions were per­ilous, with more than 250 chil­dren try­ing to take care of each other, pass­ing tod­dlers be­tween them, with in­ad­e­quate food, wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion.

Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion of­fi­cials have re­peat­edly said the agency is “in a cri­sis mode” with too many im­mi­grants and not enough re­sources.

Cus­toms gave jour­nal­ists a tour of the Clint Bor­der Sta­tion on June 26, and a con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion vis­ited Mon­day.

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