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Border facilities holding migrant children are 'stretched beyond thin' with 'profound overcrowding,' court monitors say

April 5, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 50.2%. 2 min read.

Young children rest inside a pod at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), in Donna, Texas on March 30, 2021. - The children are housed by the hundreds in eight pods that are about 3,200 square feet in size. Many of the pods had more than 500 children in them. The Biden administration on Tuesday for the first time allowed journalists inside its main detention facility at the border for migrant children, revealing a severely overcrowded tent structure where more than 4,000 kids and families were crammed into pods and the youngest kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping. (Photo by Dario Lopez-Mills / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DARIO LOPEZ-MILLS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Border processing facilities for migrant children are "stretched beyond thin" and experiencing "profound overcrowding" that make social distancing "impossible," court-appointed monitors said in documents made public this weekend.

McAllen, Texas (CNN)Border processing facilities for migrant children are "stretched beyond thin" and experiencing "profound overcrowding" that make social distancing "impossible," court-appointed monitors said in documents made public this weekend.

The filings were submitted by Dr. Paul Wise and Andrea Ordin, a pair of monitors appointed by a federal judge in California to report on the conditions of minors at US Customs and Border Protection facilities and Office of Refugee Resettlement emergency intake sites under the Flores settlement, which sets national standards for the humane treatment of minors in detention.

On March 30, more than 3,000 unaccompanied migrant children were being held inside the Donna facility, more than 500 of whom were under the age of 12, said the report.

About 2,500 of the children had been in custody longer than the 72-hour legal limit, with a "large number" of them residing in the Donna facility or in Border Patrol stations for "as many as several weeks. "

Overcrowding inside the Donna facility on certain days was so extensive that "no space remains between sleeping mats," the report said.

During Wise's visit in March, more than 500 children under the age of 12 had been held at the facility for more than a week and the caregiver staffing was "profoundly inadequate. " Available caregivers had to focus on the highest priority children, particularly very young children with special health needs.

Since March 7, 2021, occupancy at CBP's Donna facility has ranged from 2,200 to 4,500, the report said, well above the pandemic-era capacity of just 500.

The observations in the court filings are based on visits made by Wise to Border Patrol facilities in the Rio Grande Valley between March 7 and 9, including to the CBP Donna processing center and Border Patrol stations receiving families with young children and unaccompanied migrant children.

The monitors noted that ORR's ability to receive unaccompanied children from CBP facilities had been "far too limited to accommodate the rising number" of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border.

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