The child migrant facility at the center of protests and controversy over the summer of 2019 has become the first child-holding facility to open under the Biden administration.
“It’s unnecessary, it’s costly, and it goes absolutely against everything [President] Biden promised he was going to do,” said Linda Brandmiller, a Texas immigration lawyer for unaccompanied children. “It’s a step backward, is what it is. It’s a huge step backward.”
Dozens of migrant teenagers were bused to the facility Monday as permanent holding facilities struggled with lower capacity limits during the coronavirus pandemic and a wave of new cases of unaccompanied children attempting to cross the border.
But while the Carrizo Springs temporary facility opened with little controversy this time, the same site was the stage for protests against former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies when it opened in the summer of 2019.
This is a travesty and a crime against humanity,” said Cheasty Anderson, the senior policy director for the Children’s Defense Fund of Texas and one of about 100 protesters of the facility at the time. “We must raise our voices and cry out with one voice today, tomorrow, and everyday until this is over.”
The facility generated so much controversy during the first opening that employees of online furniture retailer Wayfair walked out in protest after it was discovered that the company sold about $200,000 in beds and other furniture to the facility.
“We’re walking out in protest of our leadership’s decision to sell to reprehensible concentration camps,” one employee said of the walkout. “We had hoped that raising awareness would be enough for them to do the right thing, but it wasn’t. We want to make it clear that this is not a political issue — it’s a humanitarian issue, and we will not back down.”
Although the facilities received much criticism under the Trump administration, Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber said that children placed at the facility receive good care, something that has not changed between administrations.
“If we could find another way, that’d be great,” Weber said. “On the flip side, these kids just come in, and they’re turned loose on the street — they end up being homeless kids.”
Permanent child migrant facilities are subject to state licensing requirements to ensure that the children housed there receive proper treatment, something not required of temporary facilities like the newly reopened Carrizo center. Weber said the facility would “meet or exceed” Texas licensing standards, though they are more expensive to operate than the permanent centers.
But the promise of humane treatment wasn’t enough for Rosey Abuabara, a San Antonio community activist who protested the opening of the facility in 2019. The reopening of the facility has the activist wondering if things will really change as promised with a new administration.
“When I read they were opening again, I cried,” Abuabara said. “I consoled myself with the fact that it was considered the Cadillac of [migrant child] centers, but I don’t have any hope that Biden is going to make it better.”
Author : Michael Lee
Source : Washington Examiner : Controversial Trump-era child migrant facility opens under Biden, this time with little protest