Separated Children Say Life In Detention Centers Included Cleaning Toilets, No Crying, And Daily Threats
A federal judge ordered families to be reunited after Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy illegally detained them at the border. The Trump administration has not fulfilled the legal order but those who have been reunited are speaking out about alleged abuse. Here are some of the first accounts of what they experienced inside those makeshift detention centers.
Several children — who have been released — have spoken out about what it was like inside detention centers.
Thousands of migrant children have been held in detention at shelters around the country. What has their world been like behind those closed doors? We tried to find out. https://t.co/jraTt3ZBIG
— Kim Murphy (@kimmurphy) July 14, 2018
While hundreds of kids have already been reunited with at least one parent, thousands more remain in detention centers. The Trump Administration was given a July 10 deadline to return children five and under, which it did not meet, and a July 26 deadline for all children 17 and under.
According to the a U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) official, there are still 2,551 separated minors, aged 5-17, currently in government custody, and the government alleges to have parental matches for 2,480 of them.
The kids faced strict rules while being detained including no crying, no touching, no misbehaving.
Some of the kids said that if they broke any rules, authorities there would threaten to keep them in detention longer.
“They told me, ‘If you keep doing that, you’re going to have to stay here until you’re 18,'” a 9-year-old named Diogo De Olivera Filho, a Brazilan national, told The Washington Post about his habit of sleeping late.
Outrage over the situation has grown after children opened up about being forced to scrub the floor and clean toilets in order to get their breakfast.
According to the New York Times, the children’s duties included mopping the bathroom, scrubbing the sinks and toilets. Then they were able to “form a line for the walk to breakfast.”
“You had to get in line for everything,” Leticia, a young girl from Guatemala told The New York Times.
Another child was reportedly injected with something because he was acting out.
A boy said that his friend from Guatemala was injected because “he would destroy things,” the New York Times reports.
When he was given these injections, he just passed out and went to sleep.
No one has been charged or accused of abuse, but some of the kids are returning to their parents with apparent bruises.
Tonight, Guatemalan asylum seeker Hermelindo Che Coc was reunited w/ his 6-yr-old son, Jefferson at LAX. The two were separated at the border, didn’t see each other nearly 2 months. The boy had a vacant look in his eyes. Also a cough, bruise on his eye & rashes all over his body. pic.twitter.com/322p9WiIBr
— Esmeralda Bermudez 🦅 (@LATbermudez) July 15, 2018
About these allegations, Mark Weber, a spokesman for the HHS, told The Washington Post that their “focus is always on the safety and best interest of each child.”
“These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and HHS treats its responsibility for each child with the utmost care,” Weber told the Post. “Any allegation of abuse is taken seriously” and, “after being investigated by the department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, ‘appropriate action is taken.'”
Political officials and immigration advocates are speaking out about the alleged abuse.
Lawyer and president of the Covenant House, an organization that houses homeless kids, Kevin Ryan tweeted that if American kids were treated this way inside shelters they would immediately get shut down.
Cynthia Nixon, a gubernatorial candidate in New York tweeted her disdain of the treatment of these kids.
These are among the first accounts from the children who lived these experiences. As more are reunited, more stories will be told. Mitú will publish updated stories as this accounts come to light.