Proponents are calling for the camp at Fort Bliss to be closed for migrant children


EL PASO, Texas (Border report) – Concerned about allegations of prolonged detention and inadequate psychiatric care, advocates want the Biden government to shut down the facility for migrant children at Fort Bliss.

Former contract workers say children at the Department of Health and Human Services emergency room suffer fear and frustration over delays in reuniting with family members or sponsors in the United States. The facility is also the target of a federal lawsuit filed this week by stakeholders that exposed cramped and sometimes unsanitary conditions and delays in getting help for the children.

Migrant advocates attend a rally to welcome Vice President Kamala Harris to El Paso and a migrant advocacy call to release migrant children from the Fort Bliss shelter on Friday June 25, 2021 in downtown El Paso . (Fernie Ortiz / Border Report)

“This camp must be closed […] We cannot afford to have children (there), regardless of the conditions under which they have the children. You don’t belong in a military base, ”said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights. “I know the administration is arguing that there is a problem with the infrastructure […] (but) what kind of message does it send? Are they dangerous enough to be taken to a military base? “

Group members marched through downtown El Paso on Friday with signs welcoming Vice President Harris into town. Others, however, carried signs urging the Biden government to release children from custody.

The pastor Michael Grady

“What happens to the children at Fort Bliss sends a message that they are being held against their will. And anything that forces incarceration or incarceration is not right, ”said Rev. Michael Grady, pastor of the Prince of Peace Christian Fellowship. “I’m not sure if they can be rejoined with families or relatives in the US, but there is no way they should be held for long periods of time.”

Margarita Arvizu, a member of the BNHR who interviewed a former contract worker at the facility for informational purposes, said no child should be detained.

“No child should be in a place like this, no matter how beautiful they are. Children should not be separated from their families for long periods of time, ”said Arvizu. “Children are not criminals. The fact is that these children do not have the opportunities in their countries that we have here. We (the EIS) must be abolished, not improved, but abolished. “

Activist Margarita Arvizu stands in front of a large “Free our children” sign referring to the HHS migrant children’s camp in Fort Bliss. (Julian Resendiz / border report)

Late on Friday, the Biden administration announced that HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra would visit the Fort Bliss site next Monday. A press release stated that Becerra would meet with site managers and volunteers and find out about “the progress made over the past few weeks”.

The publication said the number of migrant children – boys and girls aged 13 to 17 – in the camp was reduced from 5,000 to 1,500.

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