Things That Matter

Three Migrants Kids Died Of Flu-Related Illness, Now The Trump Administration Is Refusing To Administer The Vaccine

The Trump administration has made it clear that when it comes to its immigration policies, the cruelty is the point. Officials within the administration have admitted that their inhumane policies are meant as deterrents. The administration believes that if you’re cruel enough, people will stop seeking a new life in the United States.

However, that isn’t what the US is supposed to be about. The US is supposed to be a country of immigrants. A nation that welcomes people fleeing from poverty, violence, and even possible death. With each new anti-immigrant policy the administration puts forward, that reputation of a nation of immigrants is continuing to crumble. 

For example, the administration will not provide the flu vaccine to people in detention centers even though several have already died due to the illness. 

The US won’t be vaccinating migrant families in holding centers ahead of this year’s flu season, despite calls from doctors to boost efforts to fight the infection that’s killed at least three children at detention facilities in the past year.

At least three children who were held in detention centers after crossing into the U.S. from Mexico have died in recent months, in part, from the flu, according to a letter to Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., from several doctors urging Congress to investigate health conditions at the centers.

The move is just the latest in a series of cruel tactics targeting the migrant community.

We already know the Trump Administration is practically torturing undocumented immigrants detained at various detention camps by separating them from their families, denying them hygiene products, denying them water, forcing them to endure harassment and abuse by untrained employees, and detaining them longer.

The Trump Administration’s latest form of torture denies detained migrant families basic healthcare, including not administering to them the flu vaccine.

And the excuse from CBP makes absolutely zero sense. 

“In general, due to the short term nature of CBP holding, the time the vaccine takes to begin working, and the complexities of operating vaccination programs, neither CBP nor its medical contractors administer vaccinations to those in our custody,” a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a statement to CBS News.

This statement is flawed. Migrant families are being detained for long periods of time. The way officials get away with it, under the law, is to continuously transfer them to other detainment centers.

And now with the administrations upcoming rule change that would allow for indefinite detention, this makes absolutely zero sense. 

Medical groups and immigrant advocate groups are calling this inhumane treatment out for what it is. 

Doctors have already noted that CBP is not following medical screenings of incoming detainees and that officials have had to quarantine people multiples times because of the outbreak of disease. 

Three undocumented children have already died of the flu under the mishandling of the CBP.

“I can tell you from personal experience that child deaths are rare events,” Harvard pediatrics professor Dr. Jonathan Winickoff said to CNBC in an interview. 

Winickoff said that current holding conditions, like being placed in close proximity to other immigrants, make it easy to spread infectious diseases from person to person. He added that contracting the flu weakens a child’s immune system, making it harder to fight off other illnesses.

“A child might start out with flu but then die of another infection,” he added.

If conditions don’t improve, Dr. Julie Linton, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Immigrant Child and Family Health, said more children will needlessly die.

While people on social media had plenty of strong reactions against the policy.

People on social media are calling this torture of detainees a form of genocide, and here’s why: under Hitler rule, while some Jews died in gas chambers, others died because of disease. Last month, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) internal watchdog released a harrowing report about the health dangers inside detention centers.

“We are concerned that overcrowding and prolonged detention represent an immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained,” the report said.

Flu season is just over a month away and for migrants being held in detention centers across the US, it could be a very dangerous one.

The CBP and the Trump Administration don’t seem to be too worried — or worried at all — about the health risks migrant families are being exposed to and who falls victim to them because if they did, immediate action would be taken to help these communities.

Flu season begins in October and will last through January — possibly longer. Something tells us the ramifications of this year’s flu season will last longer than a couple of months.

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Smugglers Are Tagging U.S.-Bound Migrants With Color Coded Wristbands And Here’s Why

Things That Matter

Smugglers Are Tagging U.S.-Bound Migrants With Color Coded Wristbands And Here’s Why

As the United States experiences a so-called surge of people attempting to enter the U.S., human traffickers and smugglers are working double time as they try to capitalize on the increased movements.

Cartels and human traffickers have long run their smuggling operations like a legitimate business but they’ve only got more advanced in how they move people across the border region and one key tool: color-coded bracelets. These bracelets almost act as passports for migrants to safely cross a cartel’s territory without interference or threats of violence. But what do these bracelets mean and how are they fueling the problem of human trafficking?

Plastic bracelets are being used by cartels to identify migrants in their territory. 

U.S. border agents carried out nearly 100,000 apprehensions or rapid expulsions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in February, which is the highest monthly total since mid-2019. With the increase in people attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, cartels are managing this migration of people over their territory and trying to make money off the humanitarian crisis. 

Many cartels have implemented a color-coded bracelet system that identifies those migrants who have paid for permission to cross their territory. In the Rio Grande Valley sector, Border Patrol agents have recently encountered immigrants wearing the bracelets during several apprehensions, Matthew Dyman, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told Reuters.

The “information on the bracelets represents a multitude of data that is used by smuggling organizations, such as payment status or affiliation with smuggling groups,” Dyman said.

The color-coded system isn’t totally understood.

Credit: ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images

Migrants can pay thousands of dollars for the journey to the United States and human smugglers have to pay off drug cartels to move people through parts of Mexico. This is a money-making operation and cartels want to pay close attention to who has paid. The bracelets may just be a new way to keep track.

Criminal groups operating in northern Mexico, however, have long used systems to log which migrants have already paid for the right to be in gang-controlled territory, as well as for the right to cross the border into the United States, according to migration experts. In fact, in 2019, smugglers kept tabs on rapidly arriving Central American migrants by double checking the names and IDs of migrants before they got off the bus to make sure they had paid. 

One man, a migrant in Reynosa – across the border from McAllen, Texas – who declined to give his name for fear of retaliation, showed Reuters a picture of a purple wristband he was wearing. He told them that he had paid $500 to a criminal group in the city after he arrived from Honduras to ensure that he wasn’t kidnapped or extorted. He said once migrants or their smugglers have paid for the right to cross the river, which is also controlled by criminal groups, they receive another bracelet.

“This way we’re not in danger, neither us nor the ‘coyote,’” he told Reuters.

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Despite Promises, President Biden Looks To Reopen A Child Migrant Center Facing Sexual Assault Allegations

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Despite Promises, President Biden Looks To Reopen A Child Migrant Center Facing Sexual Assault Allegations

Since taking office in January, President Biden has been hard at work addressing everything from the nation’s COVID vaccine program and economic response to comprehensive immigration reform. However, several of his planned changes have hit major roadblocks as federal judges (many appointed by Trump) strike down his new policies.

But despite much of his administration’s progress on issues that affect the Latino and immigration communities, the administration is seriously considering reopening one of the country’s largest child migrant detention centers.

The Biden administration looks to reopen the Homestead facility for children.

The Biden administration is facing a sharp increase of unaccompanied child migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border and they’re considering reopening one of the nation’s most controversial detention centers.

The Miami Herald reported that the feds might reopen the Homestead site under the name Biscayne Influx Care Facility, an announcement that has caused outrage among advocates working towards ending the detention of children altogether.

“That place has a history of all kinds of abuse and profiting off the lock-up of children,” said Lis-Marie Alvarado, program director of the Miami-based organization American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which led the call for Homestead’s closure in 2019. A move to reopen the facility is “appalling and a slap to our faces,” she said.

The center has a troubling history of sexual assault allegations.

The facility was in the news in 2019 following shocking allegations of sexual abuse and prison-like conditions, which drew the condemnation of several Democratic candidates for president, including current Vice President Kamala Harris.

Detaining children, particularly in such dire conditions, “is a human rights abuse being committed by the United States government,” she told a small crowd. Harris later described seeing “children lined up like prisoners” as heartbreaking. 

Homestead first opened as a temporary shelter in 2016 under President Barack Obama, closed the following year, and was reactivated in 2018. Between March 2018 and August 2019, it housed more than 14,300 unaccompanied minors ranging from 13 to 17 years old, including dozens who had been torn from their parents under Trump’s policy of separating families. The average length of stay in the facility was 52 days by March 2019, with some minors spending almost four times as long.

The hypocrisy of the administration is truly frustrating.

Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In June 2019, then-Senator Kamala Harris (and candidate for president) visited the Homestead facility demanding that it be shut down. She, along with several other Democratic lawmakers, joined a series of rallies at the center to denounce Trump’s cruel immigration policies. The facility was subsequently shut down just a month later after mounting public pressure.

But now, a year and half later, the facility might be reopened under the Biden-Harris administration.

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