If you think it’s crowded at your local fireworks show tonight, you should see our undersupplied border detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley, which are described as a “ticking time bomb” not by liberal Stalin-loving hippies but by a senior manager at a Homeland Security detention camp in a report from DHS Acting Inspector General Jennifer Costello:
In addition to the overcrowding we observed, Border Patrol’s custody data indicates that 826 (31 percent) of the 2,669 children6 at these facilities had been held longer than the 72 hours generally permitted under the TEDS standards and the Flores Agreement.7 For example, of the 1,031 UACs held at the Centralized Processing Center in McAllen, TX, 806 had already been processed and were awaiting transfer to HHS custody. Of the 806 that were already processed, 165 had been in custody longer than a week. Additionally, there were more than 50 UACs younger than 7 years old, and some of them had been in custody over two weeks while awaiting transfer.
In addition to holding roughly 30 percent of minor detainees for longer than 72 hours, several Rio Grande Valley facilities struggled to meet other TEDS standards for UACs and families. For example, children at three of the five Border Patrol facilities we visited had no access to showers, despite the TEDS standards requiring that “reasonable efforts” be made to provide showers to children approaching 48 hours in detention. At these facilities, children had limited access to a change of clothes; Border Patrol had few spare clothes and no laundry facilities. While all facilities had infant formula, diapers, baby wipes, and juice and snacks for children, we observed that two facilities had not provided children access to hot meals — as is required by the TEDS standards — until the week we arrived. Instead, the children were fed sandwiches and snacks for their meals. Additionally, while Border Patrol tried to provide the least restrictive setting available for children (e.g., by leaving holding room doors open), the limited space for medical isolation resulted in some UACs and families being held in closed cells [Office of the Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security, Management Alert—”DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention of Children and Adults in Rio Grande Valley (Redacted),” 2019.07.02].
DHS responds that more people are crossing the border illegally, that Congress needs to act, and that courts need to quit creating “loopholes”:
Throughout this crisis, CBP continues to do everything it can to promptly transfer, transport, process, release, or repatriate those in our custody. However, without Congressional action to address legal and judicial loopholes, families and UACs will continue to be incentivized tby the smuggling organizations to make the dangerous journey and be encouraged by the likelihood that families will not be detained during their immigration proceedings. As more migrants become emboldened by these loopholes, CBP expects this influx to not only continue, but also to escalate [Jim H. Crumpacker, Director, Departmental GAO-OIG Liaison Office, DHS Management Response to OIG Draft Management Alert, 2019.07.01].
Richest, most powerful country in the world, and we can’t get kids who want to become Americans a hot meal, and shower, and room to stretch their legs. Seriously—look at all the food around you here in the land of the free and tell me why we can’t afford to share with these willing new Americans.