Last July, children between the ages of five and 12 years old were reportedly forced to stay overnight in vans in the Texas summer heat, some for up to 39 hours, as U.S. immigration officials bumbled around trying to match them up with their parents.
NBC News reported on Tuesday that a group of 37 migrant kids were transported to the Port Isabel Detention Center, an adults-only facility, on Sunday, July 15, 2018 around 2:30 p.m. They were there to be processed by ICE and reconnected with their parents after being separated from them at the border.
But despite the Department of Health and Human Services reportedly giving ICE a heads up about the inbound children two separate times, their officers maintained their normal work schedule, meaning nobody was there to process them or even greet them upon their mid-afternoon arrival. Andrew Carter, the regional director for BCFS, a nonprofit company the government enlisted to transport the kids, emailed his company’s CEO after the children had been in the van for eight hours to alert him that none of the children had been released and processed.
“The children were initially taken into the facility, but were then returned to the van as the facility was still working on paperwork,” Carter wrote, according to NBC. “The children were brought back in later in the evening, but returned to the vans because it was too cold in the facility and they were still not ready to be processed in.... There has to be a better process. I hope as we move forward there can be adjustments so that we don’t put tender age kids in this position.”
A former HHS official blamed the incident on Homeland Security’s inability to handle all the various tasks that come along with inhumanely separating children from their parents as some twisted form of a deterrent from making border crossings.
“DHS [the parent agency of ICE] was clearly not ready to deal with the separations and did not take steps necessary to ensure a speedy reunification with their parents,” the former official told the network. “Had DHS acted differently, the process would have been much smoother and the impact on the kids would have been much less.”
This new reporting falls in line with a string of catastrophic mistakes ICE officials and employees have made with respect to children under their supervision. On Monday, it was reported that the deaths of two detained children were wholly preventable. The same day, the Los Angeles Times recounted the stories of several migrant teenagers held as adults because of unreliable forensic dental exams. Just last week, the agency was beset by still more reports of irresponsible over-crowding.