Critics lambasted the approach to immigration that former President Donald Trump pursued in terms of policy, during the Republican leader's time at the White House. What people tended to overlook about his "build a big wall" plan was that it meant migrants wouldn't have to go through an arduous transition process in trying to come to America.
It's all a part of the backdrop to the Biden administration's border crisis. President Joe Biden opened up America to an influx of more than 172,000 arrivals on the US - Mexico border in March, and 178,622 in April.
Among them are kids, sometimes even traveling alone. The Biden administration has taken it upon themselves to try and connect these minors with families and caretakers in the United States.
An in-depth report from Reason details the dilapidated upkeep of one of the Biden administration's migrant facilities for children. It's a place called Fort Bliss in Texas. The piece notes that the complex was becoming more relied on as other border processing locations were discontinued.
Today the Biden administration announced they're no longer housing migrant minors below age 12 at the army base. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told as much to reporters today amid the already mounting criticism of what migrants between ages 12 and 17 had to face. It would mean another 5,000 kids exposed to unsavory conditions.
What Reason reports casts doubt on Secretary Becerra’s reassurances to the public that migrants are housed in adequate conditions, on-site.
The press isn't allowed to see inside Fort Bliss because it's a military base. But federal employees leaked this regardless, because what's going on inside warrants public attention.
The Fort Bliss facility as of May 22, 2021, had 3,872 boys and 752 girls, for a grand total of 4,632 minors. We're told that 750 federal employees are on staff there. That means for every federal employee, they're tasked with six children each.
For context, the Biden administration has taken staff away from the US - Canada border and even pleaded with other federal agencies to volunteer on the southern border, to compensate for the needed manpower.
These staffers told Reason they work 12-hour shifts, six days a week, and they're dealing with low supplies.
A recording obtained by the outlet shares what it's like for staff: "I'm not going to lie, we've got people dropping like flies because it's just not something that they're used to. This facility is growing so fast, and we are getting kids on a daily basis. We don't have enough staff to maintain."
If a child complains about medical problems, staff members brush them off. At a May 19 town hall meeting with a commander in the Public Health Service, a staff member said a migrant minor was coughing up blood and had to wait three-and-a-half hours before seeing anyone. The commander, Dr. Joseph Hutter, put his foot down and told staff members not to continue shrugging off medical complaints from the children.
One recording explains that the conditions inside tents (which can hold up to 1,000 people) are atrocious:
"I've been into one dorm, one time, and I was like, yeah, I'm not going back there. They're filthy. They're dirty. There's food on the floor. There's wet spots all over the place. The beds are dirty. I don't know what's going on or who's responsible for ensuring that the dorms need to be clean, but we all need to be responsible for telling the minors to clean up after themselves."
The Reason report mentions both staff-on-minor "inappropriate" contact, as well as teenaged minors in physical contact because they've got "hormones, raging out of control." The kids often have only one set of clothes, but no underwear. Federal contractors are supposed to issue that alongside a fresh set of clothes.
It’s noted that many children try to escape the facility by jumping the fence.