Reports like this one from the Associated Press are difficult to read, but important not to look away from.
A 2-year-old boy locked in detention wants to be held all the time. A few girls, ages 10 to 15, say they’ve been doing their best to feed and soothe the clingy toddler who was handed to them by a guard days ago. Lawyers warn that kids are taking care of kids, and there’s inadequate food, water and sanitation for the 250 infants, children and teens at the Border Patrol station.
The bleak portrait emerged Thursday after a legal team interviewed 60 children at the facility near El Paso that has become the latest place where attorneys say young migrants are describing neglect and mistreatment at the hands of the U.S. government.
The article quoted a 14-year-old girl from Guatemala who said she’s been looking after two little girls at the facility. “I need comfort, too,” she said. “I am bigger than they are, but I am a child, too.”
An ABC News report added, “From sleeping on concrete floors with the lights on 24 hours a day to no access to soap or basic hygiene, migrant children in at least two U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities face conditions one doctor described as comparable to ‘torture facilities.’”
These reports coincided with coverage of Sarah Fabian, the senior attorney in the Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation, who told a federal appeals court panel last week that the administration believe it’s “safe and sanitary” to confine immigrant children in facilities without soap or toothbrushes and to make them sleep on concrete floors.
It was against this backdrop that NBC News’ Chuck Todd asked Donald Trump about these conditions on “Meet the Press.”
The president immediately blamed Barack Obama before adding, “We’re doing a fantastic job under the circumstances.”
Around the same time, on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Vice President Mike Pence also blamed Democrats for the conditions at the administration’s migrant detention facilities.
The Washington Post’s James Downie responded, “[T]he Trump administration is not powerless, and Pence knows it…. The government could find the money to alleviate these conditions today.”
As things stand, that’s not happening.
Update: NBC News reported this morning on the cost-efficacy of the administration’s policy, which makes matters worse: “The cost of holding migrant children who have been separated from their parents in newly created ‘tent cities’ is $775 per person per night, according to an official at the Department of Health and Human Services — far higher than the cost of keeping children with their parents in detention centers or holding them in more permanent buildings.”