U.S. government prefers to confine immigrant children in tent camps
Hundreds of undocumented immigrant children have recently been transferred to an improvised immigrant detention center with tents. The government has assured that it prefers to have them detained rather than release them to undocumented relatives.
The first thing minor children separated from their undocumented parents see when they cross the border are detention centers.
For weeks, and in the middle of the night, these children have been transported by bus to another stage: a desert camp in western Texas.
This is another example of collateral from the zero-tolerance policy imposed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and approved by the Department of Homeland Security, implemented earlier this year to restrict undocumented immigrants from crossing the border; a strategy that, according to data made public by the government, has been ineffective.
According to an article published by the New York Times on Sunday, children have gone from being in private foster homes or shelters, where they shared a room and where they were supervised by legal representatives assigned to their cases, to a camp in Tornillo, Texas, where they are housed in groups of 20 with limited access to legal services.
"To deal with the surging shelter populations, which have hovered near 90% of capacity since May, a mass reshuffling is underway and shows no signs of slowing," explained the Times. "Hundreds of children are being shipped from shelters to West Texas each week, totaling more than 1,600 so far."
The government had warned in September that it would expand its facilities to house immigrant children in an estimated 3,600 beds and that it would keep it running "until the end of the year," Talking Points Memo reported.
Even though the Department of Health and Human Services insists that this expansion "is not due to the Administration's zero-tolerance policy," agency spokesman Kenneth Wolfe implied "it was preferable to leave children in government custody than to release them to undocumented family members.”
Since the government decided to separate families at the border, more than 2,300 children have been taken into government custody. Decisions made by lower courts forced the administration to reunite the separated families, but the efforts have not been enough and there are still around 400 children still separated from their parents, many of whom have already been deported. The government has assured that it won’t be responsible for their reunification in these cases.
The 2,300 reported children join a huge number of children who have crossed the border unaccompanied, adding to about 13,000 immigrant children detained, "the largest population ever," according to the Times.
That is why the government is still trying to revoke the Flores Agreement that prevented the detention of a minor for more than 20 days and has rushed administrative procedures to expedite deportations.