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TORNILLO, Texas (AP) — The Trump administration has put the safety of thousands of teens at a migrant detention camp at risk by waiving FBI fingerprint checks for their caregivers and short-staffing mental health workers, according to an Associated Press investigation and a new federal watchdog report.
None of the 2,100 staffers at a tent city holding more than 2,300 teens in the remote Texas desert are going through rigorous FBI fingerprint background checks, according to a Health and Human Services inspector general memo published Tuesday.
“Instead, Tornillo is using checks conducted by a private contractor that has access to less comprehensive data, thereby heightening the risk that an individual with a criminal history could have direct access to children,” the memo says.
In addition, the federal government is allowing the nonprofit running the facility — BCFS Health and Human Services — to sidestep mental health care requirements. Under federal policy, migrant youth shelters generally must have one mental health clinician for every 12 kids, but the federal agency’s contract with BCFS allows it to staff Tornillo with just one clinician for every 100 children. That’s not enough to provide adequate mental health care, the inspector general office said in the memo.
A temporary, emergency detention camp that opened in the Texas desert in June for an overflow of migrant children shows no signs of closing. There are now more than 2,300 teens being held inside the tent city, some have been there for months. (Nov. 27)
BCFS acknowledged to the AP that it currently has one mental health clinician for every 50 children at Tornillo.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said Tuesday that overriding background checks is “absolutely appalling” and called for the immediate shutdown of the shelter.
The Trump administration announced in June it would open a temporary shelter for up to 360 migrant children in this isolated corner of Texas. Less than six months later, the facility has expanded into a detention camp holding thousands of teenagers — and it shows every sign of becoming more permanent.
By Tuesday, 2,324 mostly Central American boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 17 were sleeping inside the highly guarded facility in rows of bunk beds in canvas tents, some of which once housed first responders to Hurricane Harvey. More than 1,300 teens have arrived since the end of October alone.
Rising from the cotton fields and dusty roads not far from the dark fence marking the U.S.-Mexico border, the camp has rows of beige tents and golf carts that ferry staffers carrying walkie-talkies. Teens with identical haircuts and government-issued shirts and pants can be seen walking single file, flanked by staff at the front and back.
More people are detained in Tornillo’s tent city than in all but one of the nation’s 204 federal prisons, yet construction continues.
The article is much longer but it doesn’t get any better.
Private prisons for kids; someone is making a lot of money taxpayer money.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast
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