In a report filed late Friday in state court in Los Angeles, two inspectors appointed by U.S. Regional Judge Dolly Gee to monitor the situation facing children in U.S. immigrant cells with "overcrowded" details at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities in southern Texas.
Social segregation was "impossible to operate" within confinement areas, experts said, calling the population density "not sustainable." At one labor center, there were not enough caregivers for 500 children under the age of 12 who were being held there, the report said.
"Precautionary measures to spread the spread of COVID-19, have been set aside, due to need, for CBP facilities - not suitable for children, in any case - extended beyond a few," said Andrea Sheridan Ordin, an independent court-appointed guardian, and Paul Wise, a medical expert , wrote in their report.
Young children look inside the bag at Donna's holding center, a major detention center for undocumented juveniles in Rio Grande Valley run by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).
UDARIO LOPEZ-MILLS / POOL / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Crowds were so overcrowded at the CBP's main center for children and families in Donna, Texas, that on some days there was no space between the sleeping mats that migrants used to sleep, the report said, citing Wise's visit on March.
"Open spaces designed for walking, studying, or playing are also fully occupied by mats," the report said, referring to the Donna tent camp. "The showers are designed to accommodate 1,000 people and stay up all day, some kids report not getting showers for days."
As of March 30, there were about 3,000 non-immigrant children detained at the Donna center, including 2,500 children detained at Border Patrol over the 72-hour legal limit. About 500 children who disagreed with them were under 12 years of age.
Wise found that the number of caregivers accused of caring for non-compliant "age" children in Donna was "insufficient." Because of the number of young children, caregivers had to focus on caring for very young children and those with special needs.
An independent watchdog, appointed as part of a long-standing case regarding the Flores Human Settlements Agreement, which regulates the care of children arriving at U.S. custody, noted that water, fruit and snacks for children and families in American hands are "plentiful." Baby formulas and diapers are also available.
"Performing the above-mentioned tasks for several thousand migrant children is difficult enough," the report said. "However, this work is done so that children often come to the center in large groups, sometimes up to 200, thus placing an urgent need and sometimes health interviews, tests and medical examinations."
The report said these conditions, when combined, create a "unsafe" environment for children. CBP did not respond to requests for comment from the independent observer.
Friday's report confirms the findings of Donna's tent by lawyers interviewing children held there and journalists who visited the center this week. Earlier in the week, Donna's center had 1,624% of the epidemic power, with pods designed to keep 32 immigrants under COVID-19 reduction contracts that last more than 600 non-compliant children.
The little migrant girl walks over to the others as they sleep inside a bag of females in the Donna holding area.
UDARIO LOPEZ-MILLS / POOL / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
The overcrowding at border crossings is based on the history of non-compliant children crossing the US-Mexico border and their limited beds.
U.S. officials They found nearly 19,000 children not crossing the southern border in March, the highest record each month. As of Friday morning, there were about 5,400 children who did not comply with the Border Patrol's temporary control facilities, which Biden officials said were not suitable for children.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which specializes in long-term housing for unaccompanied minors until they can accommodate a family member in the U.S., has been rushing to evacuate children from Border Patrol facilities.
HHS has identified ten emergency centers that will accommodate the growing number of children crossing the southern border, including conference centers, oil camps, military bases and a Houston church hall that welcomed 466 migrant girls on Friday. It also considers additional sites, including a post by Camp Roberts National Guard in California.
While an independent observer said the opening of the emergency services should have been a "constructive strategy" to get children out of Border Patrol custody, it was recommended in its report that HHS improve child care levels at these centers.
CBS News reported on Thursday that lawyers who inspected the two HHS emergency rooms had expressed concern about the limited availability of case management, calls to families, outdoor recreation and the education provided to children when they reported having it.
In a statement, HHS said case management, education and recreation "is provided as much as possible in emergencies."