The situation at the US-Mexico border, previously unknown to the world, shows the gruesome experiences that the majority of unaccompanied migrant children face. The Biden administration has attempted to diverge from Trump’s heartless policy of expelling migrant children, seeking to accommodate them within the confines of the United States border.
Joe Biden is under immense pressure to show transparency to the process of handling undocumented migrants crossing into the United States of America.
The overcrowding situation at the facility in Donna, Texas is a call to action for the responsible authorities to ensure that these children are housed inhumane conditions. The facility is located in the Rio Grande Valley, America’s busiest corridor for illegal border crossing.
The border detention facility, made accessible to American journalists, shows an overcrowded tent structure housing more than 4,100 people, the majority including children as young as 3. These people were crammed into a space meant for 250 people, and the youngest children were kept in a playpen with mats on the floor for sleeping.
Most unaccompanied children were processed in tents before being transferred to shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services and then placed with a family member, relative, or sponsor. The children were housed in 8 plastic pods, and many of the pods had more than 500 children in them for structures meant to accommodate very few people.
The journalists were given the chance to witness children being processed – as the children went into a small room for lice inspection and a health check. No COVID-19 tests were done on the children unless a child exhibited symptoms. Psychological tests were done on the children to check for suicidal thoughts. Shoelaces were removed to eliminate the risk of harm to anyone.
This is a growing humanitarian crisis, and US immigration officials are running out of options. They are faced with an ever-growing influx of migrant children illegally crossing the border, often after long journeys that include stretches on foot. Joe Biden urged migrants to stay put in their territories saying, “Don’t leave your town or city or community.” Most migrants believe that with Trump out of office, it is easier now to illegally cross into the US.
There are frightening statistics – as of 21 March, US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents were holding more than 15,500 unaccompanied children in custody (as reported by American journalists). The detention facilities are akin to jails and not conducive for holding children in.
It is time for the American authorities to be kinder to undocumented migrant children and give them opportunities that will alleviate their dire situation in life.