'Dangerous overcrowding': The Trump administration's own internal report just revealed horrifying pictures of migrants held in abusive conditions

'Dangerous overcrowding': The Trump administration's own internal report just revealed horrifying pictures of migrants held in abusive conditions
Overcrowding of families observed by OIG on June 10, 2019, at Border Patrol’s McAllen, TX, Station. Source: Office of the Inspector General

A new report released Tuesday exposed the horrifying and abominable conditions of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's migrant detention facilities.


Conducted by the department's inspector general, the report found that immigrants, both adults and children, in custody of Customs and Border Patrol at multiple locations near the U.S.-Mexico border are subject to "dangerous overcrowding" that has been "prolonged."

The report said it acknowledged that the department faces "extraordinary challenges," but that "DHS is not taking sufficient measures to address prolonged detention in CBP custody among single adults."

The pictures included in the report tell a devastating story of the abusive conditions all on their own:

[caption id="attachment_1120867" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Overcrowding of families observed by OIG on June 11, 2019, at Border
Patrol’s McAllen, TX, Centralized Processing Center. Source: OIG[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1120868" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Overcrowding of families observed by OIG on June 11, 2019, at Border Patrol’s
Weslaco, TX, Station. Source: Office of the Inspector General[/caption]

On the week of June 10, 2019, the IG conducted inspections of the detainment facilities in response to reports about dangerous overcrowding.

"Border Patrol was holding about 8,000 detainees in custody at the time of our visit, with 3,400 held longer than the 72 hours generally permitted under [CBP's] standards. Of those 3,400 detainees, Border Patrol held 1,500 for more than 10 days," the report said.

About 31 percent of the children have been held at the facilities longer than is permitted by the Flores agreement, a standard which has been set in conjunction between the courts and the executive branch, the IG found.

The report said of the "unaccompanied minors" ("UACs"):

In addition to holding roughly 30 percent of minor detainees for longer than 72 hours, several Rio Grande Valley facilities struggled to meet other TEDS standards for UACs and families. For example, children at three of the five Border Patrol facilities we visited had no access to showers, despite the TEDS standards requiring that “reasonable efforts” be made to provide showers to children approaching 48 hours in detention.8 At these facilities, children had limited access to a change of clothes; Border Patrol had few spare clothes and no laundry facilities. While all facilities had infant formula, diapers, baby wipes, and juice and snacks for children, we observed that two facilities had not provided children access to hot meals — as is required by the TEDS standards — until the week we arrived. Instead, the children were fed sandwiches and snacks for their meals. Additionally, while Border Patrol tried to provide the least restrictive setting available for children (e.g., by leaving holding room doors open), the limited space for medical isolation resulted in some UACs and families being held in closed cells.

It also said that some of the people in custody "were held in standing room only conditions for a week and at another, some single adults were held more than a month in overcrowded cells," in violation of the department's standards. Some of the immigrants have reportedly tried to escape the facility when temporarily moved from the cells.

[caption id="attachment_1120870" align="aligncenter" width="622"] Standing room only for adult males observed by OIG on June 10, 2019, at
Border Patrol’s McAllen, TX, Station. Source: Office of the Inspector General[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1120871" align="aligncenter" width="623"] Standing room only for adult males observed by OIG on June 10, 2019, at
Border Patrol’s McAllen, TX, Station. Source: Office of the Inspector General[/caption]

Some have tried to defend the administration's treatment of these migrants, many of whom come to the United States seeking asylum. But this kind of treatment is indefensible. The administration claims it is obligated to hold asylum seekers while their claims are processed, but this is not necessary; they could just be let go and provided with a hearing date. President Donal Trump, of course, has built his political success on claiming that the population of migrants as a whole is dangerous, but this is rank bigotry that has been used to justify brutal oppression of minorities for generations. The abusive conditions the new report reveals proves that the administration is unable to house the immigrants in even moderately humane conditions, and under these circumstances, there is no justification for keeping the migrants confined and immiserated.

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