Here's The First Heartbreaking Look Inside A Child Migrant Detention Facility

by Thea Glassman
Originally Published: 
Image via John Moore/Getty

The inside of a child migrant detention facility is completely heartbreaking

More than 700 immigrant children have been separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border since October. This inhumane move is all thanks to the Trump administration’s sweeping “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to refugees entering the United States at the southwest border. We’re getting a first look at the detention facilities that these children are being sent to, and it’s horrifying, shocking, and all around completely dehumanizing.

Jacob Soboroff, an MSNBC correspondent, was one of the first journalists to step inside an all-boys detention center in Brownsville, Texas. He took to Twitter to share the conditions that these children are living in.

First of all, there are murals of Donald Trump everywhere which is the stuff of pure dictator propaganda. One was accompanied by the president’s words: “Sometimes losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.”

The detention center is run by a non-profit. It’s located inside a former Walmart store and is completely overcrowded. “Nearly 1,500 boys 10-17 in here now,” Soboroff explained. “They’re supposed to sleep four to room. Nearly every room has 5. They’ve received a variance from the state because of overcrowding.”

Children are only allowed to be outside for two hours a day. They have one hour of free time. Contrary to Trump’s claims, none of the boys are members of MS-13 gangs.

“Moments after we walked in a shelter employee asked us to smile at hundreds of detained migrant kids in line for a meal because ‘they feel like animals in a cage being looked at,’” Soboroff noted.

The MSNBC journalist added that the staff seems to genuinely want these kids to experience better conditions. However, it doesn’t really seem like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

“I believe the worker looking after these kids who said she’d like to see a day when they don’t have to do this,” Soboroff wrote. “But things are moving in the wrong direction — capacity is 1497 and tonight 1469 boys will sleep here.”

He said the conditions the boys are living in are the equivalent of incarceration.

Trump is considering placing immigrant children in “tent cities” on a military base in Texas. Soboroff noted that those “tent cities” would not have to be licensed child care facilities, which puts these kids in an incredibly vulnerable, potentially dangerous situation.

Here’s some pictures from his visit. Yes, this is pretty much a prison for a massive group of children who have done absolutely nothing wrong.

It is inconceivable that each boy is given less than 40 square feet to live in.

Soboroff also shot a Today Show segment and revealed even more of the detention center’s bleak realities.

“The kids here don’t get out much, spending almost 22 hours a day indoors,” he said. “They also don’t talk very much with their parents either and we were told cases of psychological distress is also something they see here.” Some children are currently being medicated for mental health issues.

So, what can we do right now to help? There’s a couple of things. You can call your senators and ask that they demand Congress end Trump’s family separation policy. Head to this site to find your representative’s contact information.

You can also reach out to the Department of Homeland Security directly at 202-282-8495 and leave a complaint. Or, give U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) a call to register your concerns at 1-888-351-4024.

Alida Garcia, an organizer who focuses on immigration issues, offered a list of a whole bunch of organizations who are on the ground now, trying to help these families. “Feeling helpless about the family separations at the border?” she wrote. “Guess what, there are many people & organizations who need your help & electeds who need to do more.”

Hopefully we call all band together and very loudly let the Trump administration know that this situation is awful, inhuman, and completely, completely unacceptable.

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