Immigrant children held in crowded, concrete cells

Media given access for the first time to Border Patrol stations where thousands are awaiting transfer to shelters or detention centers
Associated Press
Jun 18, 2014

Children's faces pressed against glass. Hundreds of young boys and girls covered with aluminum foil-like blankets next to chain link fences topped with barbed wire. The pungent odor that comes with keeping people in close quarters.

These were the sights from Wednesday tours of a crowded Border Patrol stations in South Texas and Arizona, where thousands of immigrants are being held before they are transferred to other shelters around the country.

It was the first time the media was given access to the facilities since President Barack Obama called the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally this budget year an "urgent humanitarian situation."

Border Patrol stations like the one in Brownsville and Nogales were not meant for long-term custody. Immigrants are supposed to wait there until they are processed and taken to detention centers. But the surge in children arriving without their parents has overwhelmed the U.S. government.

The surge, which has been building for three years, comes amid a steep overall increase in immigrant arrests in southernmost Texas.

The children are mostly from Central America. They pose a particular challenge because the law requires Customs and Border Protection to transfer them to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours. That agency's network of some 100 shelters around the country has been over capacity for months and is now caring for more than 7,600 children.

Children began backing up in already overcrowded Border Patrol stations. Eventually, the Border Patrol began flying them to Arizona, where it set up a massive processing center in the border city of Nogales, where reporters were also granted access on Wednesday. From there, the children are sent to private shelters or temporary housing at barracks on military bases in California, Texas and Oklahoma.

But the children at Fort Brown remain in the custody of an agency ill-equipped to care for them. On Wednesday, dozens of young boys were divided from dozens of young girls. Mothers with children still younger were in another cell.

Happier faces could be found in a side yard just outside the station. There, young children colored pictures under a camouflage tent.

A group of about a dozen girls of perhaps 5 or 6 sat under another tent outside the shower trailer, dark hair wet and shiny. Women wearing blue gloves combed each girl's hair. Tables held stacks of clean bluejeans, T-shirts and toiletries.

Deeper into the yard, teen girls kicked a soccer ball and tossed a football with workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In Nogales, Arizona, girls playing soccer with two male border agents shrieked when their ball crossed over the chain link fence and away from the small recreational area covered by a white tent. Others playing basketball cheered on their teammates.

But inside, the approximately 1,000 children in the clean, 120,000-square-foot warehouse were silent.

In a roomy area with teenage boys, a large, high-definition TV playing the World Cup went largely ignored.

A small group of boys in that fenced-in area played soccer. But most lay on tiny mattresses and covered themselves with thin, heat-reflective blankets that look like aluminum foil.

Chain link fences 15 feet tall and topped with barbed wire separate the children by age and gender.

Federal agents said they could not provide an estimate of the number of minors at the facility because the figure is fluid as children transition in and out.

Authorities in Nogales have struggled to adjust to their new role as temporary caretakers.

For example, it took a few days of children rejecting breakfast burritos before agents learned that Central Americans aren't accustomed to flour tortillas. FEMA renegotiated its contract with a food vendor to begin receiving corn tortillas instead.

The children are fed three times a day and take turns by group to use the 200-seat dining area.



The main point here is people are throwing their unattended children across the border.
'It is to weep.'


Are they legal?


Are they legal?


Put them back on the bus and back across the border. Until everyone learns there are consequences they will keep coming. Send them back. What other country does this happen to? Where can you go by the BUS load and get free medical, 3 meals, education, welfare, etc? Most other counties they put you in prison and then send you back to your homeland. Not let you live there and give you citizenship! Close the border and send them HOME!

getit right be4...

Keep treating them better than our vets. They have earned it.

Send the vets over the boarder we have no resources to help them an longer.


Sadly, House Republicans voted against funding for veterans' health benefits.


Republicans don't even want to feed the natural born children in the USA.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Let's presume they are all the cartoonish Scrooges you paint them to be: If we can't feed our own citizens then why are we seeking more mouths to feed?

Since when did we become the "Crazy Cat Lady" of the third world? How can we hope to care after people when we can't even care for ourselves?


What other party wants to stop food stamps ?


Are they legal?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I would imagine that both parties would love to see the program ended.


There will always be poor people.
Now what do you imagine ?


Re: "natural born children,"


Any 'actual' thoughts on the subject?


Do you have any 'actual' thoughts on the subject?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Was there anything else attached to the bill that may have had "Republicans" (is that all? one? three?) not vote for it? Or how about the massive carryover balance the VA has had? Or doesn't that matter? As long as a bill says "veteran", etc. on it you need to stamp it yes no matter any other riders, amendments, or earmarks?


Sancations on Iran, was attached.

Trigger from Erie

This is for you, "Freethinker."

Now zip it.

Please, people, start thinking for yourselves. Repeating nonsense just makes you sound unhinged.

Darwin's choice

More BS from the obamabot! The bill was voted down because 1/10 of it was for veterans, the rest of the bill was pork laden for the demorats pet projects.

Nice try!


Stop It

You don't want no flour tortilla? You go hungry.


These poor kids. How scared they must be. They are helpless children in a foreign land that wasn't their choice to be here to begin with.

The illegals are smarter than our government. They will always find a way to get in.


Why doesn't the headline say "Illegal Immigrant Children?"


That's not politically correct.


Are they legal?


Self enriching 'loons'
And that goes for both sides.
That anyone would encourage this travesty, regardless of how unintended, should back away from any place of authority and find a comfortable place in private life.

Not just children, The liar in chief wants all over the border criminals in the country. After all aren't criminals more inclined to vote democrat than actual citizens?
We do know all criminals are democrats but can we safely assume all democrats are criminals yet?


It's so sickening to read some of the racist comments on here. They may be illegal but you can bet these kids have endured more in their short lives than many of you have or ever will in your entire lives. They do it because they are looking for a better life and work. They all don't come here looking for handouts. In case some of you don't know, we have people abusing the system because they don't want to work and there's no stopping them. Now you have people wanting to come to this country to get jobs and pay taxes that you say shouldn't be here. Well how about we get rid of government assistance and see who steps up and goes to work. I can just about guarantee it won't be the ones living off the system now.


What racist comments? These people are breaking the law! Period! Is it my responsibility to pay for these people? NO! But its obamas job to protect the border and enforce the laws we have in place. How are we supposed to pay for all these people? Cause you know they will be applying for any and all government programs they can. If your so hell bent on letting these people in, how about you go down there pick up a carload and adopt them and feed them yourself! You wont do that cause you bleeding heart libs want to make everyone else pay for it.


Yeah where's your complaint about the useless white folks here that are breaking the law by abusing or defrauding the system? You pay for those worthless people now don't ya? Like I said those people don't come here looking for handouts. And stop grouping me with any political affiliation it shows your ignorance since you know nothing of me.


Laughingatwttb wrote:

"They do it because they are looking for a better life and work."

Laughingatwttb wrote: "those people don't come here looking for handouts."

Define "better life."

So the children are coming here looking for work?

H*ll, when they cross the border their quality of life goes up by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

getit right be4...

Your commit was the only racist comment that I have read so far. Do you mind showing us all what part of the comments above you find racist?