Children at the U.S.-Mexico border, some younger than 12, are being detained longer than the legal limit of 72 hours.
Hundreds of unaccompanied children are being locked up at the U.S.-Mexico border far longer than the law allows, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
When unaccompanied minors are apprehended, the law gives border patrol agents 72 hours to transport them from temporary shelters to more hospitable facilities. But according to unreleased federal data obtained by the Post, an alarmingly high percentage of the 2,000 unaccompanied minors in border control custody have been there longer than the law allows.
According to one official, up to 1,000 children have been stuck in overcrowded detention facilities long after the legal limit of 72 hours. Another official said about 250 children under the age of 12 have been in custody an average of six days, twice as long as allowed by federal law and court decisions.
The conditions of facilities where children are being held are far from adequate, according to government officials.
"I have stools and benches, but I have no beds. ... Our facilities are not built for long-term holding, and they're certainly not built to house children for very long at all," one CBP official in the Rio Grande Valley told the Post.
Reporters with the Post witnessed young children sleeping on concrete benches, as well as women and children laying down on the pavement.
"We know their experiences are horrible," Amy Cohen, a child psychiatrist, told the Post about children under 12 who are forced to endure these conditions. "Kids will tell me, even if they've been there for two days, they will have flashbacks about it. They have nightmares about it. Children absolutely experience this as a trauma. You can see it in their faces."
Trump administration officials reacted to the news by pointing fingers and blaming different agencies for the problems.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees the border patrol, blames Health and Human Services (HHS) for not placing children in shelters quickly enough. HHS, in turn, says it has space to shelter the 2,000 children it knows to be detained and awaiting transfer, but that it can't do anything until the children are delivered into its custody.
Experts have said Trump's approach to immigration and issues at the border have made the situation worse, not better. Since September 2018, six migrant children have died in U.S. custody after a decade of no such fatalities.
Trump's racist animosity towards immigrants has manifested in failed policies that defy the law and threaten the health and well-being of children.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.