Data obtained by The Associated Press showed that on Wednesday there were three infants in the station, all with their teen mothers, along with a 1-year-old, two 2-year-olds and a 3-year-old. There are dozens more under 12. Fifteen have the flu, and 10 more are quarantined.
Three girls told attorneys they were trying to take care of the 2-year-old boy, who had wet his pants and no diaper and was wearing a mucus-smeared shirt when the legal team encountered him.
“A Border Patrol agent came in our room with a 2-year-old boy and asked us, ‘Who wants to take care of this little boy?’ Another girl said she would take care of him, but she lost interest after a few hours and so I started taking care of him yesterday,” one of the girls said in an interview with attorneys.
The Trump administration has been scrambling to find new space to hold immigrants as it faces criticism that it’s violating the human rights of migrant children by keeping so many of them detained.
The Trump administration argued in front of a Ninth Circuit panel Tuesday that the government is not required to give soap or toothbrushes to children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border and can have them sleep on concrete floors in frigid, overcrowded cells, despite a settlement agreement that requires detainees be kept in “safe and sanitary” facilities.
All three judges appeared incredulous during the hearing in San Francisco, in which the Trump administration challenged previous legal findings that it is violating a landmark class action settlement by mistreating undocumented immigrant children at U.S. detention facilities.
“You’re really going to stand up and tell us that being able to sleep isn’t a question of safe and sanitary conditions?'” U.S. Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon asked the Justice Department’s Sarah Fabian Tuesday.
When they implemented the policy, Trump officials were clear that its shocking cruelty was precisely the point: The horror of children being taken from their parents and tossed in cages would provide a powerful deterrent to those considering coming to the United States illegally.
When then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions was asked, “Are you trying to deter people from bringing children, minors, across this dangerous journey, is that part of what the separation is about?”, he replied, “Yes, hopefully people will get the message.”
Within six weeks of implementation, the blowback was so fierce that Trump officially rescinded the policy. But during the time it was enforced, nearly three thousand children were taken from their families. And there are still large numbers of minors in federal custody, some in shocking conditions with poor food and sanitation, in which small children are being forced to care for toddlers.