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The Trump administration is considering the construction of "tent cities" to house unaccompanied minors who cross the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

'Despicable': Outrage Over Trump's Plans for So-Called 'Tent Cities' to Imprison Child Migrants

"U.S. authorities should focus on keeping families together, ensuring due process in asylum adjudications, and protecting the rights of children."

Julia Conley

With the Trump administration's forcible separation of families resulting in packed government detention facilities for children, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department is considering the construction of so-called "tent cities," or prison camps, at military bases in Texas to house unaccompanied migrant children.

According to McClatchy, more than 11,000 children are currently in immigrant detention centers. As the Trump administration has separated more and more children from their parents and guardians after apprehending families at the U.S.-Mexico border—and prosecuting adults—about 100 facilities for children have reached 95 percent capacity. Texas health inspectors recently found nearly 150 violations at several detention centers in the state, with children being given medications they were allergic to by medical staff and being insufficiently supervised.

The number of minors in government custody has gone up 20 percent since the administration announced the new policy in early May.

The solution to full detention centers, argue human rights groups, is to end the practice of separating families and the criminalization of people who arrive in the U.S. to seek asylum—not to construct new prisons for children.

"Detaining children for immigration purposes is never in their best interest and the prospect of detaining kids in tent cities is horrifying," Clara Long, U.S. researcher at Human Rights Watch, told McClatchy. "U.S. authorities should focus on keeping families together, ensuring due process in asylum adjudications, and protecting the rights of children."

HHS, which is responsible for overseeing immigrant children, is examining military bases near El Paso, San Angelo, and Abilene, Texas to determine if 1,000 to 5,000 children could be held at the sites.

The Texas Civil Rights Project called the plan "despicable" in a tweet and recently demanded that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) take action to end the separation of families.

"This administration has taken American exceptionalism to a whole new level: no developed democracy in the world systematically separates children from their parents simply for coming into the country," said Efren Olivares, Racial and Economic Justice Director for the project, in a statement.

"There is a human rights catastrophe happening at our doorstep as a direct consequence of this administration's callous disregard for families fleeing violence and death. ...Toying with the lives of people fleeing violence to send a message is not only cruel, but also a violation of the international human rights and conventions to which the United States is a party," Olivares continued.


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