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Updated On: Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Report Cites Retaliation Against Migrant Children at US Southern Border

Content by: Voice of America

A week after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's inspector general highlighted serious overcrowding and prolonged detentions at holding facilities in the border state of Texas, a new report is calling attention to allegations detained migrant children are being mistreated at facilities in Arizona.

NBC News reported Tuesday it obtained accounts of nearly 30 children whose stories were document by case managers from the Department of Health and Human Services, including complaints of children who feared making officers angry if they asked for things like clean underwear.

The report cited the case of a boy who said after children complained about the taste of the food and water they received, agents from Customs and Border Protection retaliated by taking away the mats from the cells and forced them to sleep on the concrete floor.

Other cases included children being given only a mylar blanket and made to sleep outside, and reports of being denied the chance to make phone calls or take a shower.

NBC also said all of the children in the accounts documented by the case managers were held at the facility longer than legally allowed.

The report quoted a CBP spokesperson as saying the allegations "do not align with common practice at our facilities and will be fully investigated."

Last week, the DHS inspector general issued its own report saying the department needs to address both dangerous overcrowding and the prolonged detention of adults and children at its facilities in Texas.

The report said the detention centers had been strained by a 124% increase in apprehensions from October 2018 to May 2019 versus the same period a year earlier.

It included photos of migrants held in various cells with no room to move, and faulted CBP for not meeting standards for providing access to showers.  

Acting DHS chief Kevin McAleenan said Sunday that reports of unsanitary conditions and inadequate food and water are unsubstantiated.  He has also said the department is taking steps to improve the detention centers.

Citing the inspector general report, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday condemned the detention conditions migrants face at the U.S. southern border.

Her spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told VOA that Bachelet is "deeply shocked from all these perspectives at the way that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate health care or food, separated from their families in many circumstances, under very poor sanitation conditions."


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