Trump Administration Passed On Strict Background Checks For Staff At Migrant Children Detention Center

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For months now the world has been caught up watching the horror unfold for asylum seekers traveling to the United States as they flee violence and persecution in their own countries. U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration have been separating families that have arrived systematically, leaving over 14,000 children in detention camps across the country.

Now a new government watchdog memo has emerged, which says that the Trump administration waived rigorous background checks for all staff now working at the biggest detention camp that has become home to migrant children, according to Business Insider.

Per the memo, former director of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement personally signed the documentation that would allow contractors to skip the usual requirements for child abuse and neglect checks that employees who care for children would normally have to undergo. This particular memo is in effect for those working at the tent city in Tornillo, Texas.

Apparently, none of the 2,100 staff employed there have undergone fingerprint checks through the FBI, either. Despite this, the Tornillo contractor has stated that all staff were vetted in other ways. Even so, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General’s memo has stated that teens being held at the facility are receiving inadequate mental health support.

An aerial view of the tented detention camp where thousands of migrant children and teens are being detained
Featured image credit: Joe RaedleGetty Images

The tented camp was opened in June following an announcement by the Trump administration that a temporary detention center was needed for 360 teenagers and made plans to build one in an isolated corner of the East Texas desert at Tornillo. What was originally just a few canvas tents has grown to near city proportions in recent months.

Since June, it has expanded to become a detention center for thousands of migrant teens and looks more and more like becoming a permanent settlement with each passing day as more teens are detained there. By Monday, it housed over 2,300 Central American teenage boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 17, with guards posted at every few feet inside the camp.

An investigation by Associated Press found that previous plans to close the facility down by New Year’s Eve this year have become near impossible with the sheer numbers now living there. Instead, it looks like the contract to detain the migrants at the Tornillo tented camp could continue up to as late as 2020 despite Trump’s supposed executive order that the separation of families should come to an immediate end.