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Migrant Children Held in Bad Conditions in US

Clint, Texas —(Map)

This article is about a sad situation in which children are being treated poorly by the US government. If the story is troubling for you, you should discuss it with a parent, teacher, or other adult you trust.

The US government has been holding hundreds of migrant children in dirty and unhealthy conditions. Migrants are people who leave their own country to live in another country. The children have either crossed into the US on their own or been separated from their parents.

The US border with Mexico is a common place for people to try to enter the US. It’s not against the law to try to come to the US, but it is against the law to try to sneak in.

This map shows the 2000 mile (3200 kilometer) border between the US and Mexico.
This map shows the border between the US and Mexico. The US border with Mexico is a common place for people to try to enter the US. It’s not against the law to try to come to the US, but it is against the law to try to sneak in.
(Source: Larsinio, via Wikimedia Commons.)

In the past, many of the people trying to come to the US were Mexicans hoping to find work. Now, many of the people trying to enter through Mexico are from countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. They are often families running away from violence and war. Many are seeking “asylum” – asking the US to take them in because it isn’t safe for them at home. Sometimes children cross the border on their own.

US President Donald Trump wants to stop people from coming to the US. In April, 2018, Mr. Trump’s government announced that anyone trying to sneak into the country would be treated like a criminal. If they had children with them, the children would be taken away. Thousands of children were separated from their families.

Children are often separated from parents with no plans to get them back together.
Mr. Trump’s government separated thousands of children from their families – often with no plans to get them back together.
(Source: U.S. Customs and Border Control, via Wikimedia Commons.)

After many people complained about the family separations, the government announced that it would stop separating families. But since then, there have been many reports that the separations have continued.

Many experts believe Mr. Trump and his government are making things difficult and unpleasant so that fewer people will try to come to the US.

Border Patrol Tents in El Paso on Hondo Pass 2019
The US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is the government group in charge of dealing with people who try to cross the border. The CBP isn’t set up for children and doesn’t have buildings meant for taking care of people for long periods of time. The picture shows Border Patrol tents in El Paso.
(Source: Susan Barnum [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)

The US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is the government group in charge of dealing with people who try to cross the border. The law says that the CBP can only hold children for 72 hours (3 days) before turning them over. The CBP isn’t set up for children and doesn’t have buildings meant for taking care of people for long periods of time.

But because there’s been no place for the CBP to send the children, hundreds have been kept in poor conditions for several weeks.

The US government is keeping some of the children in large cages in a big building.
A group of lawyers visited a CBP building where children were being held. They reported that the building was very cold and that the lights were always on. The children slept on concrete floors without mattresses. This picture is from a different building run by the CBP and was taken last year.
(Source: U.S. Customs and Border Control, via Wikimedia Commons.)

A group of lawyers visited a CBP building where children were being held. They reported that the building was very cold and that the lights were always on. The children slept on concrete floors without mattresses. Many were still wearing the same dirty clothes they had on when they were first brought in.The children were not getting enough food or medical attention, though many were sick.

Some children as young as eight were taking care of younger children who they didn’t even know. Babies and toddlers didn’t have diapers. The oldest children were around 17. Some of them had babies who were only 15 days old.

The CBP says things are better than the lawyers reported.

Protest against child detention outside Border Patrol facility in Clint Texas 27 JUN 19
The situation is still bad, but things may be getting a little better. A judge has said that conditions must be improved. Many children have now been moved out of the CBP buildings. The picture shows a protest on June 27 in front of a CBP building that holds migrant children in Clint, Texas.
(Source: Susan Barnum [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)

The situation is still bad, but things may be getting a little better. A judge has said that conditions must be improved. Many children have now been moved out of the CBP buildings. And the US Congress  has agreed to provide more money for dealing with problems at the border.

Clint, Texas


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