These military sites can reportedly house an estimated 1,000 to 5,000 children.
U.S. Border Patrol agents take into custody a father and son from Honduras near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, near Mission, Texas. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.
The U.S. government wants to revise the way undocumented children are being held in their makeshift, fenced-off detention centers.
The Trump Administration isn’t thinking of doing the humane thing — which would obviously be to reunite the children with their parents.
Instead, they’re planning to house the children in tent-like camps.
The McClatchy Washington Bureau reports that the Department of Health and Human Services is scouting locations for their temporary shelters at Fort Bliss — an army base near El Paso, Texas, — along with Dyess Air Force Base and Goodfellow Air Force Base, also in Texas.
These military sites can house an estimated 1,000 to 5,000 children.
“HHS will make the determination if any of the three sites assessed are suitable," an HHS official said to McClatchy.
But what do they mean by suitable?
Activists from RefuseFascism.org project anti-Trump administration messages onto the side of the Metropolitan Detention Center, where many undocumented people are jailed. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.
We have no way of knowing about the current environment these children are being subjected to. Last week Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) attempted to enter a detention center in Brownsville, Texas, were children are being held and was turned away.
“I think it’s unacceptable that a member of Congress is not being admitted to see what’s happening to children whose families are applying for asylum,” Merkley said in the video.
While undocumented children were being detained during the Obama era, all the pictures of a child in a cage that have gone viral are not current. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has enacted a zero-tolerance rule for separating families who enter the country illegally. Texas health inspectors have already reported 150 violations at dozens of shelters in the U.S.
Central American children play at the Immigrant Respite Center after their families were released from U.S. immigration officials on February 23, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.
No concrete data
There’s little information on how many undocumented children have been separated from their parents.
According to the McClatchy report, as of now, the HHS has access to about 100 shelters, all of which are at 95% capacity. But we have yet to comprehend the severity of this reality because we don’t have concrete figures on how many children the government is currently detaining.
UNICEF USA cites a figure by HHS that states that about 700 children, including 100 children four years old and younger, have been separated from their parents at the southwest U.S. border. However, the Intercept is reporting that up to 2,000 children have been separated and detained.
Actions are being taken to fight against the separation of families at the border.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of many immigrant parents seeking to prohibit family separations at the border. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) tweeted that 38 senators support legislation to prevent children being taken from their parents at the border.
Here’s how you can get involved and help stop the separation of families.
Call your local senator.
By calling 202-225-3121, the Senate switchboard will connect you to your local representative. It’s crucial that Members of Congress cosponsor the following legislation:
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) — an organization that protects the basic rights of unaccompanied children in the U.S. — is another great group that not only provides legal services to undocumented parents, but is also a good resource to get educated on the matter of undocumented children.