Feds Order 2.2 Million Diapers
The number of immigrants apprehended at the border in May was the highest in thirteen years. To gain a more concrete understanding of the impact of that influx, consider the costs to the U.S. government of housing those migrants. For example, Customs & Border Protection has a contract up for bid seeking to purchase 2,224,000 diapers, 20,000 baby bottles, and 3,000 boxes of baby wipes for a single temporary facility being erected in Donna (between McAllen and Harlingen, in the Rio Grande Valley). Migrants there will be housed in tents with less than fifty square feet of living space for each person. The facility is expected to function for eight months, and the baby care items should begin arriving next weekend.
Migrant Kids to Lose English Classes, Soccer, Legal Aid
According to the Washington Post, programs in migrant detention facilities that are “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation” are being cut for budgetary reasons. Children comprise roughly 40 percent of migrants who arrive at the border, and a federal court settlement mandates education and recreation for minors in custody. That means it’s likely—if these cuts are made—that the Department of Homeland Security will see its decision challenged in court. A spokeswoman for Southwest Key, the controversial Austin-based nonprofit that houses a significant number of migrants detained in our state, told the Post that the organization is hoping “to understand the reasons behind this decision and what, if anything, we can do to continue offering these vital services.”
Another Texas Detention Facility
Carrizo Springs, a town of about five thousand residents situated between Laredo and Del Rio, will house as many as 1,600 of the teenagers whose soccer games and English language classes are expected to be canceled. The teens will be held in a man camp built for oil workers, according to the Associated Press. A spokesman for the Office of Refugee Resettlement said the children “will have the services that ORR always provides, which is food, shelter, and water.”
Family Separation Continues
The migrant family separation policy announced in the first half of 2018 was among the most controversial decisions of the Trump administration, with huge numbers of people around the country publicly demonstrating their opposition. The administration’s “zero tolerance” stance required all adults apprehended at the border, including asylum seekers, to be charged criminally, while children in their parents’ care were sent separately to shelters. By June of last year, public opinion forced President Trump to sign an executive order that he claimed would end the practice. However, according to observers following the issue closely, the separations are still occurring. In a Newsweek op-ed, Efrén Olivares of the Texas Civil Rights Project wrote about what he’s seen recently:
This Tuesday, I walked into the U.S. federal courthouse in McAllen, Texas, knowing it had been exactly a year since my team at the Texas Civil Rights Project began working with families separated from their children at the border. And after documenting 1,167 family separations in McAllen alone, one thing is clear: This horror is far from over.
In a single morning last week at the courthouse, I saw President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy tear seven families apart.
Olivares claims that nearly eight hundred families have been separated in McAllen alone since Trump’s executive order.
Medications Taken From Migrants
Doctors who treat detained migrants are describing a practice of vital medicines—including insulin, asthma inhalers, seizure meds, prenatal vitamins, and blood pressure meds—being seized from patients arbitrarily. A Border Patrol spokesperson told Yahoo News that medicine is confiscated only when its origins are unknown and that it’s “clearly untrue” that the agency takes away medications prescribed by American doctors. El Paso pediatrician Carlos Gutierrez told Yahoo that the Border Patrol is lying about its policy. “You can ask providers who care for [migrants] day in and day out,” he said. “We know that the medicines are taken away.” A lawyer with the El Paso nonprofit Annunciation House agreed. “It’s strange they’re saying it’s not true,” the lawyer said. “I’ve heard countless people tell me their insulin was taken away.” Thus far, none of the migrant deaths in federal custody have been the result of confiscated medicines, but several of the doctors who spoke to Yahoo expressed their concerns that such a fatality will occur if the practice continues.
Mexico Agrees to a Deal That It Already Agreed To
Last week, Trump threatened Mexico with tariffs if the country didn’t do more to stem illegal border crossings into the U.S. On Friday, he announced a deal—the Mexican national guard is to deployed to its border with Guatemala—and declared that the tariffs (which even staunch Trump supporters like John Cornyn and “Beautiful Ted” Cruz opposed) wouldn’t go into effect. Trump treated the deal like a major concession from our southern neighbor, but over the weekend, we learned that it’s not a new deal: It had, in fact, been agreed to in March, and the rest of the demands the administration sought, such as a “safe third country” treaty that would automatically reject asylum seekers looking to enter the U.S. if they hadn’t first applied for asylum in Mexico, were rejected. Still, tariffs would likely have been economically disastrous, so however they end up averted is good news.
Meanwhile, About That Border Wall
President Trump’s 2016 campaign promise to construct a “big, beautiful wall” remains in legal limbo. Various court rulings—some in the administration’s favor, some not—have left most new construction blocked. However, a one-mile stretch of the wall that currently exists in the California town of Calexico will receive a fresh coat of paint, courtesy of the U.S. military. Active-duty troops will spend the next thirty days on a mission to “improve the aesthetic appearance” of the wall, painting the fence black during the sweltering California summer. (The forecast highs in Calexico for the middle of next week reach up to 112 degrees.) Defending the move, DHS told the Associated Press that, while the primary objective is aesthetic, a fresh coat of paint might also make the fence more slippery, should anyone attempt to climb it.