Whistleblowers Claim Migrant Kids Experience Poor Medical and Hygiene Care at Texas Shelter
This article features our clients Laurie Elkin and Justin Mulaire and was originally published here.
Whistleblowers have detailed how migrant kids housed in one of the Biden administration’s largest shelters for unaccompanied migrants in Texas are experiencing poor hygiene care.
According to NBC News, the two federal workers, who have come forward to file a whistleblower complaint to Congress, also alleged that the migrant kids are being watched over by contractors with no Spanish-language skills or experience in child care.
The said contractor for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Servpro, specializes in the cleanup after water, fire, and storm disasters.
There is no record of having a contract related to child welfare before it started to take care of almost 5,000 children, who were housed at the facility in Fort Bliss, Texas last May.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that Fort Bliss had fewer than 800 children. The Texas site had been under repeated allegations of improper childcare.
Kim Brooks, a spokeswoman for Servpro, said they immediately advised the franchise operator that these are not approved Servpro service offerings.
Brooks added that they had been informed that the franchise operator is no longer providing the said services through the Servpro franchise. Servpro Industries, however, did not provide the name of the franchise.
Poor Hygiene Care for Migrant Kids at Texas Shelter
The whistleblowers detailed that children were not given enough clean underwear, were forced to sleep in dirty tents, and often had “a foul odor,” Roll Call reported.
The whistleblowers noted that in reality, the children are now under U.S. custody, adding that the HHS must act to ensure that the children were treated safely and humanely.
The whistleblowers were identified as two lawyers named Laurie Elkin and Justin Mulaire. They worked at the said shelter from mid-May to early June.
Elkin and Mulaire said the contractors seemed to see their job more as a crowd control than child care. They further noted that there were instances wherein the contractors woke children up at 6 a.m. with a bullhorn.
Children were also not given prompt health care when experiencing health crises, citing an incident with one girl who had a panic attack after learning that her older sister was dying, and another one who did not have a period for months started bleeding heavily.
According to Border Report, David Seide, senior counsel at the Government Accountability Project, said their clients had seen new examples of deficiencies in the care of the children.
Migrant children sheltered at Fort Bliss have been constantly monitored for self-hard, escape attempts, and panic attacks.
Meanwhile, a White House official earlier said that President Joe Biden did not order a formal investigation, CBS News reported. The official noted that HHS has already been looking into Fort Bliss, and many conditions have been improved.
Symone Sanders, a spokesperson for the vice president, said the administration is taking the issue very seriously.
El Paso Congresswoman Veronica Escobar said she would rather wait for improvements at a migrant children’s center in Fort Bliss than see it closed, according to another Border Report. Escobar added that she would continue to push for improved conditions at the shelter.