“They were the worst conditions that I’ve ever seen in the United States of America…
“We have children who were being kept in cells where they are sleeping on concrete floors, there are as many as 25, 50, 60 children in these cells with open toilets in the middle…
“They were filthy dirty, there was mucus on their shirts, the shirts were dirty. We saw breast milk on the shirts…
“They are having to eat in these cells, they’re having to defecate in these cells, the children are sick, there’s an influenza outbreak in the facility, there’s a lice infestation in at least one of the cells, and the children are being forced to care for one another because there is no one caring for them there…
“In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention I have never heard of this level of inhumanity.”
These are the words of Warren Binford, a law professor at Willamette University, and Holly Cooper, an attorney who represents detained youth, on the children and conditions they recently witnessed at the Custom Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas. You wouldn’t treat animals like this—that is, unless you didn’t care if those animals died.
And in the past eight months, six migrant children have died in custody of the Trump regime. Well, at least six that we know of because the first child to die, 10-year-old El Salvadoran girl Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle, did so in September 2018. But her death was not revealed until late last month when CBS news discovered it.
(Did the Trump administration intentionally conceal the death of this 10-year-old child that occurred just five weeks before the November 2018 elections? No doubt such news would’ve disrupted Trump’s closing midterm message that migrants are waging an “invasion” of our country. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) has called this a “cover-up” by the Trump administration and vowed to investigate further.)
Six children dead in past eight months is even more jarring when you realize that zero migrant children had died in U.S. custody in the previous 10 years. Let’s be clear: Trump’s rhetoric, and his policies, means he bears personal responsibility for these children’s deaths. If you worked for Trump’s government and believed Trump that the migrants are “very bad thugs and gang members” who will brutally kill Americans if not stopped “now,” then why would you care about the children of these “bad” people?
In fact, lawyers from Trump’s Department of Justice lawyers were in federal court last week arguing they had the freedom to treat these children even worse. I’m not exaggerating. Last Tuesday, DOJ lawyer Sarah Fabian argued before incredulous judges that the Trump regime should not be required to provide migrant children in U.S. custody with soap, toothbrushes or even a bed.
At least the lawyers are saying what they think. Republicans just want to change the subject. On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence told CNN’s Jake Tapper that “I can’t speak to what that lawyer was saying.” No one believes that. He then changed the subject from the horrific conditions his own administration has created to slam Democrats, “loopholes” and human traffickers.
Still worse was the response of GOP Texas Rep. Michael Burgess on Monday night when confronted by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. Burgess tried to undermine the validity of the reports on the horrific conditions the children were being forced to endure by stating, “I don’t know if it’s hyperbole,” adding, “I know that the hatred for this president is so intense, people are liable to say anything.” (Burgess went on to admit he has not even been to this facility.)
While congressional Democrats have been calling out Trump administration actions, more is needed before additional children die. With our systems failing to protect children, that more should be a United Nations investigation.
The U.N. has already been following Trump’s immigration policies. Last June, the U.N. Human Rights office called on Trump to end his immoral family separation policy. In response, Trump’s then-U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley slammed the organization for daring to criticize Trump’s policies: “Once again, the United Nations shows its hypocrisy by calling out the United States while it ignores the reprehensible human rights records of several members of its own Human Rights Council.”
And in March, U.N. human rights officials made a second request “to conduct an official visit and prepare a report about the situation of the human rights of migrants in the U.S.” They were rebuffed by the Trump regime.
While Trump could veto any recommendation of sanctions directed at his regime for human rights violations since the U.S. has a seat on the U.N. Security Council, the hope is that an investigation would increase our nation and the world’s attention on this issue and cause the policies to change.
Indeed, since the recent reporting on the conditions of the children at the Clint, Texas facility, Trump announced plans to move 300 children from that location. Then again this is the same administration that had placed them there, and that covered up the death of a 10-year-old girl for seven months, so they have zero credibility.
That’s why the U.N. needs to conduct an independent investigation. And the longer the Trump regime says no, the more you get a sense that are covering up not only human rights violations but also possibly crimes against humanity.