Migrant children who are currently being housed in temporary Health and Human Services shelters across the United States sued the Biden administration on Monday claiming that they have been served undercooked food, forced to sleep in rooms with round-the-clock bright lighting, and are living in “deplorable” conditions for up to two months.
“Migrant children housed in U.S. pop-up shelters reported overcrowding and long stay times, spoiled or undercooked food, and lack of access to showers or clean clothes, according to testimonials filed in court Monday,” the Daily Mail reported. “Seventeen minor migrants shared accounts with lawyers of their time in emergency shelters after crossing into the U.S. unaccompanied by adults. Some reported depression while others described trouble sleeping with round-the-clock bright lights.”
Some of the children complained of spending up to 60 days in the shelters, even though an Obama administration-era decision puts a 72-hour limit on how long minors can stay in United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. The Biden administration has skirted this requirement by moving migrant children who are captured along the United States-Mexico border out of CBP facilities and into facilities run by the Health and Human Service Department.
The Daily Mail reported that, as of Sunday, there are just over 14,000 children still in United States’ custody, down from a high of around 22,000 in late April.
“The food here is horrible,” one of the children who spoke to attorneys wrote in her testimonial. “Yesterday we were given hamburgers but I couldn’t eat it because there was a foul odor coming from the bread. I really only eat popsicles and juice because that is the only food that I can trust.”
Others complained of raw chicken, insufficient bathroom facilities, no laundry facilities, and just one hour of outdoor recreation per day.
“Lawyers were given access to speak with children in these facilities as they monitor government compliance with the Flores Settlement – a 1997 agreement governing conditions for which detained immigrant children can be kept,” the Daily Mail reported. “The team of attorneys have interviewed children and conducted site visits at the emergency shelters, which were originally intended for short stays.”
The reports also seem to indicate a growing issue with depression among child migrants house at HHS facilities, particularly among the girls.
The New York Times reported earlier this month that it does appear that the Biden administration’s “child migrant crisis” is abating slightly. Although the number of adult illegal immigrants apprehended at the United States-Mexico border increased from April to May, the number of child migrants had decreased by around 17%, though the number is still far higher than in previous years.
“The number of migrant children and teenagers arriving alone at the United States border with Mexico decreased last month compared to a month earlier, according to newly released Customs and Border Protection data,” the outlet noted. CBP says there were 17,148 unaccompanied child apprehensions in April and 14,158 apprehensions in May.
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