Christian leaders are speaking out after reports last weekend described horrifying conditions facing hundreds of children inside of federal detention facilities on the U.S. southern border.
“This is unconscionable,” tweeted Dan Darling, vice president for communications at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, after reading a chilling piece published Friday by The New York Times.
The newspaper reported on a group of lawyers who last week visited an overcrowded immigration detention facility in Clint, Texas, where hundreds of children are being detained with no access to basic hygiene like soap, toothpaste or toothbrushes.
“There is a stench,” Elora Mukherjee, a lawyer who visited the facility, told the outlet. “The overwhelming majority of children have not bathed since they crossed the border.”
Mukherjee, the director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, was part of a team of six lawyers that met with 60 children at the Clint facility this week. When the lawyers arrived, they were told that as many as 350 children were being detained there.
“The children are locked in their cells and cages nearly all day long,” Mukherjee explained. “A few of the kids said they had some opportunities to go outside and play, but they said they can’t bring themselves to play because they are trying to stay alive in there.”
By the end of the lawyers’ visit, about 200 children were said to have been transferred to an undisclosed location. The lawyers were not told where the children were moved.
According to The New York Times, another group of lawyers made similar discoveries at six other detention locations in Texas.
In addition to lawyers, medical experts have voiced concern as some children have been forced to sleep on concrete floors with the lights on. Physician Dolly Lucio Sevier wrote a medical declaration obtained by ABC News.
“The conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities,” Sevier stated after being granted access to a facility in McAllen, Texas.
The facility in McAllen is the largest Customs and Border Patrol facility in the country.
The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s Office warned in May of “dangerous overcrowding” taking place at a border processing center in El Paso, where up to 900 migrants were being held in a facility meant for 125.
“Border Patrol agents told us some of the detainees had been held in standing-room-only conditions for days or weeks,” the report reads.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith