WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), sent a letter to HSGAC Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-MI) requesting immediate hearings on the health and safety conditions of migrant children held in detention centers at the southern border. 

“Last month, news reports detailed gross neglect and mistreatment of migrant children at an overcrowded CBP facility in Clint, Texas. At the facility, CBP officers tasked children with taking care of toddlers; children were severely sleep deprived; and children had gone without bathing or clean clothing for weeks. Additionally, children lay on overcrowded concrete floors which prevented them from sleeping and were held in cells with single toilets. Children also were not provided adequate food or water, and at times, were forced to go to sleep hungry. There were also outbreaks of the flu, and migrant children who contracted diseases were kept in separate cells without toilets along with other sick children. According to a June 21st Washington Post article, the government argued in court that it “shouldn’t be required to give detained migrant children toothbrushes, soap, towels, showers or even half a night’s sleep inside Border Patrol detention facilities” in order to provide a safe and sanitary environment.,” wrote Senator Rosen.

“In order to ensure DHS accountability regarding the health, safety, and well-being of migrant children, we respectfully request that any upcoming hearing on the U.S. Southern Border prioritize the humanitarian concerns raised in this letter  and that such hearings take place before the Senate adjourns for the August State Work Period,” she concluded.

BACKGROUND: Yesterday, during a HSGAC roundtable, Senator Rosen questioned Homeland Security Advisory Council panelists on how to ensure the safe and humane treatment of migrant children at the southern border.

Rosen announced last month that she placed holds on two Department of Homeland Security nominees, which she will keep in place until the inhumane and substandard conditions at migrant detention centers significantly improve and oversight requirements are met.

In June, Senator Rosen joined her colleagues in sending a letter to Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) requesting a hearing on the health and safety conditions of migrant children arriving at the southern border. 

Also in June, Rosen led 17 of her colleagues in sending a letter to DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan raising concerns about a recent Office of Inspector General report detailing severe and dangerous overcrowding of migrants at El Paso Del Norte Processing Center during unannounced inspections conducted on May 8 and 9, 2019.

Rosen is also a co-sponsor of the Keep Families Together Act, which would ensure that the federal government carries out immigration procedures in the best interest of detained children.

Read the full text of the letter here and below:

Dear Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Peters:

On June 27, 2019, Congress passed the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act (P.L. 116-26), which provides nearly $4.6 billion in funding to the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to address the humanitarian needs at the U.S. Southern Border. Given recent developments on the conditions of DHS facilities and treatment of migrant children in U.S. custody, I request that any upcoming hearing on migration at the U.S. Southern Border include robust oversight of the funds appropriated to the Department and the appalling conditions at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities for migrant children and families. 

Last month, news reports detailed gross neglect and mistreatment of migrant children at an overcrowded CBP facility in Clint, Texas. At the facility, CBP officers tasked children with taking care of toddlers; children were severely sleep deprived; and children had gone without bathing or clean clothing for weeks.[1] Additionally, children lied on overcrowded concrete floors which prevented them from sleeping and were held in cells with single toilets. Children also were not provided adequate food or water, and at times, were forced to go to sleep hungry. There were also outbreaks of the flu, and migrant children who contracted diseases were kept in separate cells without toilets along with other sick children.[2] According to a June 21st Washington Post article, the government argued in court that it “shouldn’t be required to give detained migrant children toothbrushes, soap, towels, showers or even half a night’s sleep inside Border Patrol detention facilities” in order to provide a safe and sanitary environment.[3] 

Furthermore, news stories have also surfaced detailing allegations of sexual assault, abuse, and retaliation at a CBP facility in Yuma, Arizona holding migrant children. A 15-year-old girl reported to HHS that while at the CBP facility in Yuma, a CBP officer – in front of other officers and migrants – groped her breasts and other private parts in a routine pat down while laughing and humiliating her.[4] At the same facility, a 16-year-old migrant reported that officers had retaliated against him and others because they had complained about the poor taste of the food and water at the facility, and had their sleeping mats taken away as punishment. Dozens of reports from children detail similar accounts of inhumane conditions[5] highlighting what appears to be a systemic problem of abuse across many of CBP’s holding facilities for migrant children.

Recent Office of Inspector General (OIG) inspections support these news reports of inhumane conditions at DHS facilities. The OIG report, entitled Management Alert – DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention of Children and Adults in the Rio Grande Valley cited severe overcrowding and prolonged detention of migrant children. Under the Flores Agreement and the CBP National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search, detainees cannot be held for more than 72 hours. According to the OIG, 826 out of the 2,669 migrant children at the Rio Grande Valley facilities had been held longer than 72 hours. Additionally, out of the five facilities that were visited, three facilities “had no access to showers,” two facilities had not provided children with hot meals, and “children had limited access to a change of clothes.”[6] This is unacceptable.

The news reports and OIG report are alarming, and it is imperative that this Committee exercise rigorous oversight of the Department, its officers, and its use of recently-appropriated funds. In order to ensure DHS accountability regarding the health, safety, and well-being of migrant children, I respectfully request that any upcoming hearing on the U.S. Southern Border prioritize the humanitarian concerns raised in this letter and that such hearings take place before the Senate adjourns for the August State Work Period.

I appreciate your consideration on this important issue. 

Sincerely, 

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Rosen Solicita Audiencia Después de Reportes de Negligencia y Maltrato de Niños Migrantes en la Frontera Sur

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Hoy, la Senadora Jacky Rosen (D-NV), miembro del Comité de Seguridad Nacional y Asuntos Gubernamentales del Senado (HSGAC, por sus siglas en inglés), le envió una carta al presidente del Comité de Seguridad Nacional, Ron Johnson (R-WI), y al miembro de mayor rango Gary Peters ( D-MI) solicitando una audiencia sobre las condiciones de salud y seguridad de los niños migrantes en centros de detención en la frontera.

“El mes pasado, informes de noticias detallaron la negligencia y el maltrato de niños migrantes en una instalación sobrepoblada de Aduanas y Protección de Fronteras de EE.UU (CBP, por sus siglas en inglés) en Clint, Texas. En la instalación, los oficiales de CBP le encargaron a niños a cuidar de otros niños menores; los niños estaban severamente desvelados; y a los niños se les había negado un baño o ropa limpia durante semanas. Además, los niños estaban detenidos en celdas con solo un baño y tenían que acostarse a dormir en pisos de concreto en celdas sobrepobladas que les impedía dormir. A los niños tampoco se les proporcionaba suficiente comida o agua y, a veces, se les obligaba dormir con hambre. También había brotes de gripa y los niños migrantes que contrajeron enfermedades se encontraban detenidos en celdas sin baños junto con otros niños enfermos. Según un artículo publicado el 21 de junio en el Washington Post, el gobierno alegó en corte que "no se le debería exigir [al gobierno] a proveer a los niños migrantes detenidos cepillos de dientes, jabón, toallas, duchas o incluso ni el derecho a dormir una media noche dentro de los centros de detención de la patrulla fronteriza" para proporcionar un ambiente seguro y sanitario", dijo la Senadora Rosen.

"Con el fin de garantizar la responsabilidad del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de los Estados Unidos (DHS, por sus siglas en inglés) con respecto a la salud, la seguridad y el bienestar de los niños migrantes, respetuosamente pedimos que la próxima audiencia sobre la frontera establezca prioridad en dirigir las inquietudes humanitarias identificadas en esta carta y que estas audiencias se realicen antes de que el Senado tome receso en agosto", concluyo la Senadora Rosen.

ANTECEDENTES: Ayer, durante una mesa redonda de HSGAC, la Senadora demandó respuestas de miembros del Consejo Asesor de Seguridad Nacional sobre cómo garantizar condiciones seguras y trato humano de los niños migrantes en la frontera.

Rosen anunció el mes pasado que bloqueara la nominación de dos nominados al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, y que mantendrá el bloqueo hasta que las condiciones inhumanas y deficientes en los centros de detención mejoren significativamente y los centros de detención cumplan los requisitos de supervisión.

En junio, la Senadora Rosen se unió a sus colegas en enviar una carta al Presidente y al demócrata de mayor rango del Comité de HELP, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), y a Patty Murray (D-WA), solicitando una audiencia sobre las condiciones de salud y de seguridad de los niños migrantes en la frontera.

También en junio, Rosen lideró a 17 de sus colegas a enviar una carta al Secretario Interino del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de los Estados Unidos (DHS, por sus siglas en inglés), Kevin McAleenan, expresando preocupación por un reporte de la Oficina del Inspector General que detallo el hacinamiento grave y peligroso de los migrantes en el Centro de Procesamiento de El Paso Del Norte durante las inspecciones realizadas el 8 y 9 de mayo de 2019 .

Rosen es copatrocinadora de La Ley de Mantener a las Familias Juntas, que garantizaría que el gobierno federal lleve a cabo los procedimientos de inmigración en el mejor interés de niños detenidos.

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