Auschwitz-Goldenbridge-Clint Facility

Isaac Chotiner at the New Yorker reports that this week lawyers interviewed a lot of children being held in nightmare border prisons, in order to monitor compliance with Flores.

The conditions the lawyers found were shocking: flu and lice outbreaks were going untreated, and children were filthy, sleeping on cold floors, and taking care of each other because of the lack of attention from guards. Some of them had been in the facility for weeks.

That sounds…so…familiar.

It sounds, for instance, like the conditions at the work camp part of Auschwitz, where Margo and Anne Frank died of typhus. But this isn’t the Nazis. This is us. This is our government doing exactly, yes exactly, what the Nazis did – herding people they have decided to despise and abuse into filthy camps to live in disease-promoting conditions.

Chotiner talked to a lawyer who had interviewed children at the Clint Facility. She found it has far more children than its purported capacity. The bosses have “expanded” capacity, but what that turned out to mean was an added warehouse which increased capacity by 500 children. It has no windows.

Her group started with the youngest, and they were shocked at how young they were.

And then we started to pull the children who had been there the longest to find out just how long children are being kept there. Children described to us that they’ve been there for three weeks or longer. And so, immediately from that population that we were trying to triage, they were filthy dirty, there was mucus on theirshirts, the shirts were dirty. We saw breast milk on the shirts. There was food on the shirts, and the pants as well. They told us that they were hungry. They told us that some of them had not showered or had not showered until the day or two days before we arrived. Many of them described that they only brushed their teeth once.

Safe and sanitary, is the Flores standard.

So, in any event, the children told us that nobody’s taking care of them, so that basically the older children are trying to take care of the younger children. The guards are asking the younger children or the older children, “Who wants to take care of this little boy? Who wants to take of this little girl?” and they’ll bring in a two-year-old, a three-year-old, a four-year-old. And then the littlest kids are expected to be taken care of by the older kids, but then some of the oldest children lose interest in it, and little children get handed off to other children. And sometimes we hear about the littlest children being alone by themselves on the floor.

Many of the children reported sleeping on the concrete floor. They are being given army blankets, those wool-type blankets that are really harsh. Most of the children said they’re being given two blankets, one to put beneath them on the floor. Some of the children are describing just being given one blanket and having to decide whether to put it under them or over them because there is air-conditioning at this facility. And so they’re having to make a choice about, Do I try to protect myself from the cement, or do I try to keep warm?

But it gets worse.

So, on Wednesday, we received reports from children of a lice outbreak in one of the cells where there were about twenty-five children, and what they told us is that six of the children were found to have lice. And so they were given a lice shampoo, and the other children were given two combs and told to share those two combs, two lice combs, and brush their hair with the same combs, which is something you never do with a lice outbreak. And then what happened was one of the combs was lost, and Border Patrol agents got so mad that they took away the children’s blankets and mats. They weren’t allowed to sleep on the beds, and they had to sleep on the floor on Wednesday night as punishment for losing the comb. So you had a whole cell full of kids who had beds and mats at one point, not for everybody but for most of them, who were forced to sleep on the cement.

There’s more. Of course there is.

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