A BBC investigation into unaccompanied minor detention centers in Texas revealed alarming conditions under the Biden Administration. The BBC reports migrant children are exposed to disease, dangerous food, and sexual abuse while in confinement.
As the flood of unaccompanied migrant children mounted through the spring, the Biden Administration quickly put up detention centers in multiple locations. The BBC reports the migrant children, mostly from Central America, face “heartbreaking” living conditions.
Findings by the BBC from interviews with staff and migrant children revealed allegations of sexual abuse, COVID-19 and lice outbreaks, long waits for medical attention, a lack of clean clothes, and children served under-cooked meats. Staff members provided the BBC with leaked photos and video from inside detention centers.
This investigation centered on a tented facility erected at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas. The facility is the temporary home for more than 2,000 unaccompanied minors who illegally crossed the border from Mexico into Texas.
Staff and children told the BBC the facilities served under-cooked meat to hungry children — some of whom became ill after eating.
“Sometimes the chicken had blood, the meat very red,” a 15-year-old boy said. “We couldn’t stand our hunger and we ate it, but we got sick from it.”
One employee told the reporters, “Hundreds of children have tested positive for COVID.” They also reported outbreaks of the flu, strep throat, and lice.
Employees also told the BBC about children in need of urgent medical attention being neglected, the report continues. A staff meeting recording provided by one employee described an incident where a child was coughing up blood and urgently needed medical attention.
“They said ‘we are going to send him to lunch’,” the employee heard from another staff member. “It was a three and a half hour wait to see anybody.”
The facility reportedly lacked sufficient lice kits, allowing the parasites to spread rampantly in the overcrowded facilities.
The investigation also revealed a shortage of underwear, shoes, and other clothing items, the BBC reported.
“It is heartbreaking to hear their stories and to see them very plainly suffering and to hear the same kinds of complaints over and over again about things that could be corrected so easily,” a staff member told the BBC.
Biden Administration officials assigned to the Department of Health and Human Services pledged transparency in the detention center process but denied the BBC access to the facility. Officials said they are “providing required standards of care for children such as clean and comfortable sleeping quarters, meals, toiletries, laundry, educational and recreational activities, and access to medical services.”
The BBC also found reports of staff members sexually abusing children. In a secret recording, one staff member said, “We have already caught staff with minors inappropriately.”
An official with the Department of Homeland Security also reportedly spoke to staff members about a rape incident.
“DHS mentioned there was a rape – they are giving the girls pregnancy tests,” the staff member told the BBC. “And I heard the other night that another contractor was caught in a boys’ tent, you know, doing things with him.”
The article states children being held in the facility are experiencing severe depression and includes reports of children self-harming.
“Sometimes, and at night, we would cry,” the 15-year-old boy mentioned above told the BBC. “During the worst time, I was nearly at the point of committing suicide.”
Reports from U.S. Customs and Border Protection show that more than 78,000 unaccompanied alien children were apprehended by Border Patrol agents in Fiscal Year 21 through the end of May. This is up nearly 300 percent from the prior year. The children mostly came to the U.S. from Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.