“They don’t feed them”: the shelter for migrant children in Texas that is “hell”

This article features Government Accountability Project’s whistleblower client, Kaitlin Hess, and was originally published here.

At a time when the Biden Administration is preparing for a massive influx of migrants to its border with Mexico, a letter sent to Congress by volunteers at a children’s shelter raises questions about its ability to meet the humanitarian challenge.

In the letter, a group of volunteers described the center for unaccompanied minors that was erected inside the Fort Bliss military base, Texas, as a place of “chaos, poor management and poor conditions.”

“I was just shocked,” Kaitlin Hess, a 34-year-old volunteer who was disappointed with the conditions she found at Fort Bliss during the two months she worked there, told Noticias Telemundo.

In early 2021, when the country was facing a record influx of migrants at the Southwest border (and more than 19,000 unaccompanied minors were found in March) , the Biden Administration awarded more than $600 million to a contractor for the it was Trump to erect an “emergency” shelter built out of huge white tarps to house children at Fort Bliss.

More than a year later, the site continues to operate as an emergency center with temporary status, despite housing hundreds of children and no sign that conditions have improved.

“It makes me sad because they suffer inside and we as workers don’t let us do anything. They don’t feed them,” a former shelter employee who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals complained to the cameras of Noticias Telemundo.

With the announcement of the revocation of Title 42 as of May 23 – with which the Trump and Biden Administrations expelled hundreds of thousands of migrants without the right to request asylum at the border – it is believed that there could be a new wave of migrants in search of refuge.

In these circumstances, there is fear about the conditions that thousands of migrants could face in US territory.

“There is no justification for this Administration to continue to have these types of centers open, it has to close them immediately,” said Fernando García, director of the Border Network for Human Rights in Texas.

In the complaint that the Government Accountability Project sent to Congress on Tuesday, it is highlighted that children are held for weeks at the Fort Bliss shelter without basic necessities such as clean underwear or bedding, under the supervision of unlicensed contractors. experience caring for children who frequently threaten youngsters with deportation, as well as insufficient mental health staff.

The children also did not have a suitable place to rest, because the sleeping beds were illuminated with white light 24 hours a day and there was a lot of noise, according to the complaint.

“Everybody around me, around us, they were just like, ‘What is this place? This is not a place for children. It is not a place for adults. It was much worse than I could have imagined,” Hess told Vice News .

The Department of Health and Human Services said in response to a request for comment from Noticias Telemundo that it was “mobilizing all government resources to find compassionate and fair solutions.”