Things That Matter

We Now Have A Better Look At What Migrants Are Facing In Detention Centers Thanks To Joaquin Castro And A Secret Camera

The growing list of allegations against ICE, DHS, and Border Patrol sent a group of members of Congress to Texas on Monday. Their mission was to get inside a for-profit migrant detention center.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Veronica Escobar, and Joaquin Castro were among the group that traveled to Texas to visit what many are calling a migrant prison.

While they had to check their phones with security, many of them took to Twitter to share the horrors they saw inside. Castro, however, managed to take photos and videos, further proving that the heartbreaking conditions at these facilities are unacceptable.

Castro’s secretly captured footage shows the shocking conditions inside migrant detention centers.

Credit: @thehill / Twitter

Castro, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, led a delegation of more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers to tour the U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities in southwest Texas on Monday.

The delegation was told to “surrender their phones” ahead of the tour, AOC wrote on Twitter. But Castro “was able to get a device in.”

Castro said in an interview that he had no second thoughts about taking and sharing the images after officials had asked the lawmakers on a facility tour to leave their cellphones behind. He posted the images after visiting a station in El Paso. 

The group was able to meet with women who wanted their photos and stories to be shared with the world.

Credit: @RawStory / Twitter

The congressional members met with a group of women in custody who agreed to be filmed and gave their names, according to a senior aide in Castro’s office.

His undercover videos showed women who had been denied showers for more than two weeks and others who had been denied medication.

Castro posted the video on his Twitter account purportedly showing the women, who he said were all from Cuba, sitting in sleeping bags on a concrete floor of a small cell, which he said had a toilet but no running water to drink from or to wash their hands.

“Many said they had not bathed for 15 days,” Castro tweeted. “Some had been separated from children, some had been held for more than 50 days. Several complained they had not received their medications, including one for epilepsy.”

And showers that are so tiny it would seem impossible to even turn around in them.

Next, the delegation toured a border patrol station in Clint, which Castro said houses children and some parents. Castro posted a video on Twitter purportedly showing the mobile shower units there, which he described as “dank, dirty” and “small in number for the hundreds of people there just a few weeks ago.”

Castro also recounted seeing a young boy in custody at the facility who smiled and “pressed his face against the dirty glass of a locked steel door,” trying to talk to them through the thick glass.

Credit: @carol_canderson / Twitter

Ingraham —a virulent racist who has cozied up to white nationalists and continued to downplay the inhumanity of separating migrant children from their families and placing them in cages — chimed in, comparing the conditions for children in detention to those of U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Castro shot back: ““You’re a white supremacist, Laura. And, no, I don’t think refugees should be kept in war-zone conditions in the most prosperous nation on earth.”

READ: According to AOC, Agents At Texas Detention Center Are Telling Migrants To Drink Water From Toilets

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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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