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Tent camp for undocumented immigrant children, Tornillo, Texas. Photo: Vice News.
Tent camp for undocumented immigrant children, Tornillo, Texas. Photo: Vice News.

Detained migrant children in danger due to government negligence

Thousand of workers in camps improvised by the government have not been fingerprinted, and the detention of more than 14,000 immigrant children has become the…

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The migrant crisis Donald Trump’s government talks about is not on the border but within the national territory.

After the administration's zero-tolerance policy separated thousands of immigrant families, a significant number of unaccompanied children are in the custody of companies that don’t meet the fundamental requirements.

According to an extensive investigation by the Associated Press, the Trump Administration "has put the safety of thousands of teens at a migrant detention camp at risk" by overlooking the background checks of their caregivers and mental health workers.

According to a memo from the Health and Human Services inspector made public on Tuesday, "none of the 2,100 staffers at a tent city holding more than 2,300 teens in the remote Texas desert are going through rigorous FBI fingerprint checks."

The non-profit organization contracted by the government to manage the centers, BCFS Health and Human Services, has carried out checks through a private contractor that "has less access to comprehensive data", which would leave thousands of children in the hands of people who may not be qualified for the job and, in the worst case, may have a criminal record.

In the same way, the facilities don’t have enough mental health specialists as stipulated by federal law (one for every 12 children), with one assistant for every 100 children.

While the Trump Administration had announced during the month of June that the facilities would be placed temporarily and to deal with the flow of unaccompanied children across the border, the camp has only grown in recent months, ensuring these young people will spend an indefinite time in custody.

According to the AP, "more people are detained in Tornillo’s tent city than in all but one of the nation’s 204 federal prisons," and its expansion continues.

Previous reports have described the situation of children inside the facilities, where leisure times are strictly controlled, physical contact is forbidden, and overcrowding becomes increasingly palpable.

BCFS spokesperson, Krista Piferrer, has assured that the work is transparent and that it is an "exceptional" operation, but mental health specialists warn that the risks of confining children to a kind of prison without having committed a crime (entering the country without documents is considered a civil offense in the United States, but not a crime) can bring serious collaterals for the rest of their lives.

Similarly, the management of Tornillo is not common.

The director of Annunciation House, Rubén García, told AP "Tornillo is far more secretive than other government shelters, where he and his staff are routinely allowed inside." Garcia explained that at Tornillo "workers must sign non-disclosure agreements and visitors are rarely allowed."

The secrecy and negligence that is becoming increasingly evident have put on the table the true position of the government before immigrants, whether or not they are minors.

It’s ironic to realize that, while the Administration uses children as bait to do FBI background checks to those who offer to take care of them outside of detention centers, it doesn’t care to do the same with those who must take care of them 24/7 inside.

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