US gov’t releases 1st videos of migrant children in custody

Washington, Mar 23 (efe-epa).- President Joe Biden’s administration released two videos Tuesday showing the living conditions in two United States government-run facilities where hundreds of migrant children are being housed along the border with Mexico.

Recorded last week, the videos contain the first official footage of the situation at migrant processing centers in El Paso, Texas, and Donna, Texas, for the temporary sheltering of minors and other migrants, including families.

The nearly four-minute video taken at the US Customs and Border Protection facility in Donna shows children arriving (wearing masks to protect against the spread of Covid-19) and having their temperatures taken before they fill out questionnaires.

The footage shows the areas where supplies such as towels, blankets, water and diapers are kept and the pods where CBP personnel conduct interviews with the minors, who are separated from one another by transparent plastic sheets.

The video also includes footage of an empty outdoor play area.

Children have complained that they are only able to use the playground for around 20 minutes a day, the ABC television network reported, citing attorneys who had spoken with some of those minors.

The nearly three-minute video taken at CBP’s El Paso facility includes footage of the areas where children sleep on mats on the floor and of shelves stocked with basic supplies.

The images of the Donna facility were not the first to come to light.

A Democratic congressman from Texas, Henry Cuellar, on Monday released a series of photographs of that center that he said showed the “terrible conditions” facing thousands of migrant minors in US government custody.

Cuellar, who has criticized the Biden administration for its management of the current migrant wave, explained that each of the eight sections of the Donna facility has the capacity to house 260 people. But he said that on Sunday, when the photos were taken, one of the sections was holding more than 400 migrant children.

According to government sources cited by the media, the CBP has around 5,000 unaccompanied migrant minors in its custody, while around 10,500 children who crossed the border without the company of their parents or a legal guardian are being kept in emergency housing facilities run by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The number of undocumented migrants crossing the border from Mexico has been rising on a monthly basis since last May and exceeded 100,000 in February, a 28 percent increase from the previous month.

The month-over-month increase in arriving unaccompanied migrant children was 61 percent in February, while the number of arriving migrant families soared by 163 percent compared to January. EFE-EPA


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