US reporters and lawmakers were allowed inside a detention center in Texas presently accommodating more than 1,100 illegal immigrants that have crossed the border from Mexico.
The Texas facility, known as Ursula, currently holds children and adults waiting to be processed in the heart of the new US policy that separates migrant children from their parents. The immigrants are divided into three wings: the unaccompanied children’s wing, the lone adults’ wing and the children accompanied by their parents’ wing.
Over the past six weeks, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their immigrant parents at the US southern border, as part of the Trump administration’s new ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy.
In an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) investigation, a Department of Justice official told the judge that the government does not exert any effort to reunite the families. Instead, it attempts to place the child with another relative in the United States, if the child happens to have one.
Critics of the immigration policies say that the American immigration officials have shown no plan that outlines the methods which will be used to reunite the families once the parents are persecuted for their “illegal border crossing”.
Democratic Senator, Jeff Merkely, explained to CNN after his visit to Ursula that “the cages that are about 30×30 [feet] and have a lot of young folks put into them.”
Although reporters and lawmakers were not welcome to take pictures during their visit, the Associated Press reported and described the center claiming that the cage, which contains 20 children, had “are bottles of water, bags of chips [crisps] and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets scattered around.”
Ursula, which immigrants reportedly called La Perrera, Spanish for dog kennel, has elicited tweets on social media by visitors on its humiliating status and anger-revoking conditions.
The Associated Press had additionally been told by a rights worker, who had visited the Ursula facility, that a 16-year old girl and an unaccompanied toddler, who was separated from his parents, for three days.
The American Academy of Pediatrics warned that the highly stressful experiences that the children are put through are incredibly damaging to the lifelong development of a child’s mental health. Additionally, Jose Rodriguez, a local lawmaker, further describes the US plan as “totally inhumane” and “outrageous”, adding that “it should be condemned by anyone who has a moral sense of responsibility.”