The Slatest

U.S. Border Patrol Is Refusing Citizen Donations Even as It Holds Migrant Children Without Access to Soap and Toothpaste

A migrant father has his hands clasped behind his head as a CBP agent searches his pockets. The migrant's son looks on.
A Customs and Border Protection agent searches a migrant father from Guatemala in front of his 6-year-old son on May 16 in El Paso, Texas. PAUL RATJE/Getty Images

The conditions that migrant children are being held in by the U.S. government are unconscionable. As reports of deplorable facilities at the border have trickled out, the Trump administration has tried to justify the conditions as the result of an influx of migrant crossings and a lack of funding. To make matters worse, and even more morally bankrupt, the Texas Tribune reports that while this is going on, the U.S. government is simultaneously turning away donations from concerned citizens trying to help alleviate the shortfall and suffering that has left older children caring for younger ones at facilities without essentials such as soap and toothpaste.

A slew of other sympathetic people, advocacy groups and lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have expressed a desire to lend a hand to the kids housed in the facilities. But after purchasing items like toys, soap, toothbrushes, diapers and medicine — especially as news reports circulate of facilities having drinking water that tastes like bleach and sick children without enough clothing — they’ve been met with a common message: No donations are being accepted.

The Tribune talked to local residents who have unsuccessfully tried to donate supplies at the Clint and McAllen facilities in Texas. Democratic state Rep. Terry Canales tweeted that after communicating with U.S. Border Patrol, he was told donations were not welcome. “These kids are being underserved, and they’re not getting what they need,” Canales said of a conversation with U.S. Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector chief. “We discussed diapers, hygiene products, and I pressed upon him that from a PR perspective that it looks terrible we’re not meeting their needs and they’re not accepting donations from the public.”

That rebuffing of offers of help came as “hundreds of migrant children have been transferred out of a filthy Border Patrol station in Texas, where they had been detained for weeks without access to soap, clean clothes or adequate food … suggesting that worsening conditions and overcrowding inside federal border facilities may have reached a breaking point,” the New York Times reports. “The move came days after a group of lawyers was given access to the station in Clint, Tex., about 20 miles southeast of El Paso, and said they saw children as young as 8 caring for infants, toddlers with no diapers, and children who said they were waking up at night because they were hungry.”

We’ve lost our way.