Congress, Trump battle over aiding kids at U.S.-Mexico border
An asylum-seeking boy from Central America runs down a hallway after arriving from an immigration detention center. | Gregory Bull/AP

WASHINGTON—The Democratic-run U.S. House and right-wing President Donald Trump are battling over money for aiding and sheltering kids who arrive – and whom Trump’s Border Patrol yanks from their parents – at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump demands money to supposedly shelter the kids, 250 of whom were recently moved from a dirty center just outside El Paso. The kids were locked in windowless cells, wearing filthy clothes, starving and with unmet basic hygiene needs – such as soap.

The Democrats want to aid the kids, but they don’t trust Trump to do so. In so many words, they suspect he would spend the extra cash to continue construction of his Mexican Wall or to bolster other aspects of his inhumane policies.

After an uproar due to news reports, the Border Patrol has placed the kids in other facilities or with families, it says.

W. Warren Binford, a children’s rights specialist and law professor at Williamette University who helped expose the conditions at the Clint, Texas, center tweeted “the Border Patrol confirmed in writing to the congresswoman for El Paso that 300 of the children were transferred from the Clint Border Patrol Facility. We do not know where they have gone, but hope they will be with their families soon. Approximately 30 children still there.

“It was a heartbreaking week for our team. We need to get these children out of border patrol stations and back with their families as quickly as possible. Children don’t belong in Border Patrol facilities,” another investigator Warren Binford, added,

And Human Rights Watch attorney Michael Bochenek added, “A Border Patrol agent came in our room with a 2-year-old boy and asked us, ‘Who wants to take care of this little boy?’ Three girls told us they’d been trying to take care of a 2-year-old for a week in an immigration holding cell near El Paso.”

“Of these 250 children, 15 had the flu. A sick 2-year old had detained teens caring for him. The children were eating uncooked frozen food. They hadn’t bathed or worn clean clothes in weeks. This is a violation of…the human rights of these children,” the Congressional Hispanic Caucus says.

Trump wants millions of dollars to have the Border Patrol help the kids, or so he says.  Tweeters doubt that. So does the Congressional Progressive Caucus, citing mistreatment of the kids by Trump’s other agencies once the Border Patrol sends them elsewhere.

In the money bill House Democrats pushed through two weeks ago, there were additional funds for the shelters for the kids – but no new funds for the Border Patrol or Trump’s wall, which foes call racist, ineffective or both. That still leaves the question open of, if Congress provides the funds, will Trump use them for the kids, or for the Border Patrol and the wall.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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