Inhumane conditions for detained children amount to emergency public health crisis, says attorney who visited center
Hundreds of children at a migrant detention center in Texas are being held in inhumane conditions that amount to an emergency public health crisis and should be allowed immediate access to doctors, according to an attorney who gained rare access to the facility.
Elora Mukherjee, the director of Columbia Law Schools immigrant rights clinic, was one of six attorneys to visit the detention center in Clint as part of ongoing litigation about an agreement that states unaccompanied children cant be held in US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities for more than 72 hours.
The team found that children had no adequate access to medical care, had no basic sanitation, were exposed to extreme cold and did not have adequate access to drinking water or food.
Ive been visiting children detained in federal immigration custody for 12 years, Mukherjee told the Guardian. I have never seen anything like this before. I have never seen, smelled, had to bear witness to such degrading and inhumane conditions.
The UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Monday said she was appalled at the conditions. As a paediatrician, but also as a mother and a former head of state, I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions, the statement quoted Bachelet as saying.
Two weeks ago, the attorneys met with 60 children between the ages of five months and 17 years to interview them about the conditions in the facility, which is holding 350 children. Some had bodily fluids including breast milk, urine and mucus stained on their clothes and many were wearing the same clothes they had crossed the border in, days or weeks earlier.
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