Migrant Detention Centers Are Creating ‘Largest Child Prison In American History,’ Says Senator Jeff Merkley

An aerial view of U.S. Border Patrol station facilities on June 28, 2019 in Clint, Texas.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

During an interview on NBC News’ Meet the Press, Senator Jeff Merkley attacked the United States’ migrant detention centers ⁠— which he highlights are often run by for-profit companies ⁠— as a part of a concerning move toward creating “the largest child prison in American history.”

Newsweek reports that Merkley specifically referenced a bill Congress passed that funnels $4.6 billion into the Department of Homeland Security for dealing with the migrant crisis. He suggests that the money will continue to fuel the establishment of the “child prison” industry instead of addressing the underlying problems causing the migrant crisis.

“It did nothing to change the blockade of children at the border, being left in Mexico,” he said.

“It did nothing to change the for-profit system of Homestead [a detention center in Florida] where 3,200 children capacity — the largest child prison in American history is being established. And the company’s being paid $750 a day to lock up children, no incentive to get them into homes.”

Although some members of President Donald Trump’s administration claim the reports of poor migrant conditions are uncorroborated, a report from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security provides many examples that corroborate the concerns of Merkley and Democratic members of Congress. Overcrowding, lack of basic hygiene essentials, and poor drinking water are just a few recurring issues that have raised concerns over the safety of U.S. migrant camps.

Per The Inquisitr, physician Dolly Lucio Sevier described her time at the Ursula U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility in McAllen, Texas to ABC News and compared the conditions to torture facilities. She claims that all of the children she assessed showed evidence of trauma and lacked medical care, water, basic sanitation, and food. In addition, Sevier says the children were exposed to extremely cold temperatures and constant light.

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Sevier also said that many of the mothers were not given the ability to clean their infants’ bottles.

“To deny parents the ability to wash their infant’s bottles is unconscionable and could be considered intentional mental and emotional abuse.”

Since Trump’s announcement of his re-election bid, he has been focusing on cracking down on immigration — the central issue of the 2016 campaign that led to his election. As The Inquisitr previously reported, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), claims that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is in the midst of a plan to deport 1 million immigrants that have failed to follow court-issued deportation orders.