activists call for closure of migrant children’s camp in Fort Bliss | KLBK | KAMC
EL PASO, Texas (Border report) – Concerned about allegations of prolonged detention and inadequate mental health services, advocates want the Biden administration to shut down the Fort Bliss migrant children’s center.
Former contractors say children at the post’s Department of Health and Human Services emergency reception site suffer from anxiety and frustration over delays in meeting with family members or sponsors at the post. United States. The facility is also the target of a federal lawsuit filed this week by advocacy groups that have exposed cramped and sometimes unsanitary conditions and delays in getting help for children.
“This camp must be closed […] We cannot afford to have children (over there) no matter what condition they say they have children. They don’t belong to a military base, ”said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights. “I know the administration maintains that there is an infrastructure problem […] (but) what kind of message does that send? Are they dangerous enough to be put on a military base?
Members of the group marched through downtown El Paso on Friday with signs welcoming Vice President Harris to the city. But others carried signs urging the Biden administration to release the children from detention.
“What is happening in Fort Bliss with the children sends the message that they are being held against their will. And anything that forces lockdown or imprisonment is not fair, ”said Reverend Michael Grady, pastor of the Prince of Peace Christian Fellowship. “I’m not sure they can reconnect with families or loved ones in the United States, but they certainly shouldn’t be detained for an extended period.”
Margarita Arvizu, a BNHR member who interviewed a former contract worker at the facility for investigation, said no children should be taken into custody.
“No child should be in a place like this, no matter how nicely he dresses. Children should not be separated from their families“ for long periods of time, ”Arvizu said.“ Children are not criminals. The point is, these children don’t have the opportunities in their country that we have here. We need (the HIA) to be removed, not improved, but removed. “
On Friday evening, the Biden administration announced that HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra would visit the Fort Bliss site next Monday. A press release says Becerra will meet with site leaders and volunteers and receive a briefing on “the progress that has been made in recent weeks.”
The statement said the population of migrant children – boys and girls aged 13 to 17 – in the camp has been reduced from 5,000 to 1,500 now.