Under the Flores Agreement, reached several years ago, the federal government has agreed (among other things) to house detained migrant children in “safe and sanitary” conditions. Last week, the current Administration argued to the 9th Circuit that they were complying with this while keeping children in conditions without soap, toothpaste, clean clothes, beds or wholesome food. Instead, the children are crowded together, sleeping on concrete floors with mylar blankets, for weeks at a time. You can read about the conditions, and the lawsuit, here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/migrant-children-border-soap.html
The rest of this week, OWLS will be highlighting the detention of children, and what you can do to help.
A few months ago the Administration started returning asylum-seekers to Mexico to wait (for months, at least) for their asylum case to be heard. This program is given the Orwellian name of “Migrant Protection Protocol,” sometimes called the “Remain in Mexico” program. There is nothing protective about returning migrants to wait in Mexico, without access to lawyers or adequate shelter. Read about the reality of the MPP here: https://newrepublic.com/article/154181/asylum-broken-remain-mexico-policy
A watchdog group inspecting migrant detention centers in El Paso Texas report that they have found people so overcrowded that some “stand on the toilets in an attempt to get breathing space” — and thereby block access to the toilets. Read about this unsafe, inhumane treatment here: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/31/politics/inspector-general-warns-overcrowded-conditions/index.html
And remember to contact your elected officials to voice your concern.
Yes, it’s as awful as it sounds. Pregnant migrants in the Western District of Texas are being forced to give birth in USMS custody, and then hand over their newborns to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Reuniting with their babies hinges on their release from federal custody and whether they can access legal help to navigate the US child welfare system. Read the whole heartbreaking story here: https://rewire.news/article/2019/05/28/trump-administration-separates-pregnant-migrants-newborns-before-returning-detention/
A sixteen-year-old Guatemalan boy died yesterday, after being denied release from detention for more than a week. This is the fifth child death at the southern border since December 2018. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is calling for an investigation. You can support this by calling Oregon’s Congressional Delegation to object to the maltreatment of children.
OREGON CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION
OWLS member Edie Rogoway has, through her contacts at Al Otro Lado, been notified of a family seeking asylum from Honduras who was in need of emergency sponsorship and housing. The OWLS network has provided! Alana Iturbide Simmons and her family have stepped up in the biggest way to offer housing. Joslyn Keating is coordinating donations of clothing and household goods. There is a PayPal donation account for money for transportation from California, and then for the expenses Alana and her family will have feeding and housing the family for six months.
Here’s what we know: mom is 29, has three children with her: two girls, ages 3 and 12, and one boy, age 9. They will be arriving within a week, with the clothes on their backs.
Here’s how to donate: https://www.paypal.me/HonduranFamily. Share this link with friends and family. Make it your birthday donation request.
If you have in-kind donations, they need: a bunk bed and bedding, gift cards for clothing, hygiene items, etc., a toddler bed, a car seat, toys. Contact Joslyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have social service contacts in Vancouver WA, or can help with occasional transportation to appointments, contact Alana at Alanaiturbide@yahoo.com.
And, watch the listserv for follow-up requests.
The government has separated thousands of children from their asylum-seeking parents in the last few years. They have now admitted that they kept such poor records that they have been able to reunite only 60 of those children with their parents. For the thousands remaining, there are parent alien numbers, but no way to connect them to particular children.