United States: Detention Centers for Migrant Children?

Although hard to understand those facilities have worked for years.

The tragedy was described this Tuesday by a New Herald reporter, Monique O. Madam.

She wrote that three congress members from Florida asked to investigate a contract not submitted to examination for an amount of 341 million dollars.

It was granted to the company that runs a detention center for migrant children with headquarters in the Florida city of Homestead.

When did this happen? Under the authority of a Donald Trump’s man, the retired General John Kelly.

The latter defended and helped to implement the politics of separating minors from their parents after arriving to the frontier of the United States.

Those who oppose that have said that he should not be helping to control a company benefitted by that disposition.

Although the Homestead center is, mainly, for minors who arrived alone to the United States, they have been incarcerated in the place.

This Monday, in a letter to the Department of Health the democratic congress members, Donna Shalala, Debbie Wasserman, and Debbie Mucarsel, demanded to investigate how the treaty was granted.

“It’s disturbing that a critical contract is granted without an open tender procedure with the appropriate authorizations.

We respectfully request that your office carries out an audit on the recruiting process”, said the letter.

It adds: “we wish to ask you to clarify John Kelly’s participation and influence in this process.”

The aforementioned congress members were concerned that the participation of the General in the Administration increased the number of minors in the facility.

Also about the time “those children spend under the custody of the Government.”

The referred piece of writing was published two weeks after the Miami Herald disclosed other agreements tied to the company Comprehensive Health Services, a branch of Caliburn International, belonging to the DC Capital Partners.

The board of such company is integrated by former National Security officials, diplomats and military.

According to sources from the Security and Exchange Commission of the United States, the board receives 100,000 dollars yearly.

That announcement was made a month after John Kelly was seen entering the Homestead detention center in a golf cart.

The Child Welfare Agency of Florida “cannot investigate any allegation of the abuses.”

Maybe for that reason, repressive bodies didn't accept the request of the aforementioned democratic lawgivers. All of this despite a new law that “orders” to authorize that kind of officials.

Crystal clear, the incredible presence of variants of concentration camps for migrant minors in North American soil pushes to disguise them at any cost.

Let’s just remember the tragedy of thousands of children during the stampede of Central American citizens, or the daily drama to understand the life of that community.

And who told you they are alive? As the great and unforgettable writer Eduardo Galeano would ask again.

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Migrants in Precarious Conditions on the Mexico-US Border

Mexico, Dec 11 (Prensa Latina) Hundreds of Central American migrants live in precarious conditions in the camps in Tijuana along the border with the United States, Save the Children and the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico reiterated on Tuesday.

Both institutions agree that more than 500 members of the migrant caravan, including 100 children, sleep in tents in poor conditions while waiting for a solution to their situation in Tijuana, for which they call on local authorities to take special protection measures for minors and adolescents.

Thousands of people still spend the night in that locality of Baja California, located mainly in the El Barretal hostel, while half a thousand sleep outside the Benito Juarez sports stadium in unhealthy conditions.

Azucena Garcia, a spokesperson for Save the Children, said they were concerned about the situation of children who have suffered from respiratory diseases and hunger and who, he said, arrived at the southern border of the United States 'to escape the violence of organized crime.'

The activist reiterated the launch of a campaign to collect signatures in favor of mechanisms to safeguard the rights of minors, in adherence to the Global Compact for Secure, Ordered and Regular Migration, adopted in Marrakech, Morocco, which establishes a basis for collaboration among different countries in order to protect the rights of millions of migrant children.

For its part, the National Commission issued 21 precautionary measures directed to authorities of the federal, state and municipal orders to provide 'support based on respect for human rights' to the members of the caravan that is in Tijuana.

According to this institution, Central American migrants reach almost 10,000 especially women, girls, children and adolescents, pregnant women, elderly and disabled, who require care priority.

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Mexico: Attack on Migrants, Woman Dead, Child Among 3 Injured

A group of hooded men intercepted a truck with several migrants and then fired on them killing a woman and injuring a child among several others, in Veracruz, Mexico.

On Saturday, an attack by hooded men on a group of Central American undocumented migrants traveling north by truck through Veracruz left one woman dead, and three injured, including a child.

RELATED: Mexico's Court Blocks AMLO Bill to Cut Public Sector Salaries

María Herlinda was killed; Karen Paola Benavides, 31; Rosalia Lopez, 32; Hamilton Soco, 26; and Robin Joel, three, were injured during the attacks.

The migrants were all Guatemalan nationals risking their lives to make it to the United States like the many other Central American migrants whose struggle has made history in recent months.

The hooded people carried “large weapons” and traveled “extra-officially” on a vehicle which read “police,” according to locals who reported on the incident. At the moment, there are no official reports which can confirm the type of weapons used to harm the migrants or the identity of the perpetrators.

The National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH, for its acronym in Spanish) expressed its “staunch condemnation,” for the acts of violence against migrants in Veracruz.

The CNDH highlighted that this is the first homicide registered since the migrant caravans’ transit in Mexico. For this reason, it ordered a full investigation to clarify all details concerning the attack and to “find those responsible so they can be taken to law enforcement entities to receive the corresponding punishment.”

The Commission also indicated that there may be possible human rights violations by local authorities who were tasked to protect migrants, for not “giving the cautionary measures which were reiterated in many occasions by the CNDH from the beginning of the migrant exodus, some of which were directed toward state, public, and municipal servants from Veracruz.”

According to the United Nation, over 3,300 migrants from the Central American Caravans are currently seeking asylum in Mexico. The Mexican government reports that nearly 8,250 migrants have entered the country since Oct. 19.

 
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US Troops at the Border: From Bodyguards to Medical Assistants?

U.S. officials told Reuters there is a proposal to keep troops at the border to help with medical screenings of Central American migrants. 

President Donald Trump's administration is considering giving United States troops on the border with Mexico the authority to carry out medical screening of migrants, U.S. officials told Reuters Tuesday.

RELATED: US District Court Blocks Trump From Asylum Ban

The proposal, which is still in draft form and circulating within the administration, would involve the military in screenings for things like illness and injury only if U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency personnel were overwhelmed and unable to do so on their own, the officials said.

The proposal would expand the mission for the Pentagon, which said previously it did not expect its forces to directly interact with migrants, despite calls by policy experts and retired military personnel to send the troops back home. On Monday, retired Maj. Gen. Peter S. Cooke called the domestic deployment “extremely unwise” and an unnecessary burden on soldiers which “does affect our national security” while Ned Price, director of policy and communications at National Security Action and former advisor to President Barack Obama criticized the deployment of troop calling it "nothing more than what I would call a political stunt." 

The Pentagon declined to comment on internal deliberations.

U.S. military duties on the border, including stringing up barbed wire and building temporary housing, have been aimed at supporting CBP personnel.

One U.S. official said that under the latest proposal, U.S. troops would carry out medical screenings only if other officials, such as from state and local governments or the National Guard, were not available or overwhelmed.

RELATED: Migrant Caravan: Trump Suggests Possible Use of Lethal Force

On Monday, Reuters reported that Trump was likely to give U.S. troops authority to protect immigration agents stationed along the U.S. border with Mexico if they come under threat from migrants seeking to cross into the U.S., a role he had hinted at on various occasions, including during an earlier press conference in which he said (hypothetical) stones thrown by migrants would be regarded as bullets. Later, Trump had to backtrack on that comment. 

The U.S. officials who spoke to Reuters did so on condition of anonymity because Trump has not yet signed off on the idea.

The number of deployed troops are at around 5,800. Trump's critics have criticized his decision to deploy troops as a response to the humanitarian crisis that has forced thousands to flee Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. On several occasions, the U.S. president has used dehumanizing language to refer to entire families looking for asylum as they flee violence and poverty. 

About 6,000 Central Americans have reached the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali, according to local officials. More Central American migrants are making their way toward Tijuana. And a last group of migrants is making their way to Mexico. According to teleSUR correspondents at least 20 members of the last caravan made it into Mexico Tuesday.

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South Africa: 4,311 Migrants Dead or Missing in 'Land of Gold'

From Hillbrow, after research, they are taken to Olifantsvlei cemetery in Johannesburg. The bodies are then grouped in fives and buried together in nine-feet-deep holes.

In South Africa’s Guateng (Land of Gold) province, 4,311 migrants have been reported dead, between 2014 and 2017, and remain unidentified.

RELATED: EU Official: 10,000 Border Guards, No Charity, Investment to Keep Out African Migrants

When undocumented migrants pass away and they remain unclaimed, they are not repatriated. “A lot of dead bodies end up in a mortuary in Hillbrow, one of the city’s most dangerous and notorious neighborhoods, for pathological research. It’s South Africa’s biggest morgue, with 3,000 bodies being investigated every year. Ten percent of those remain unclaimed and unidentified,” according to the Daily Journal.

But, this is not the last stop. From Hillbrow, after research, they are taken to Olifantsvlei cemetery, in the city of Johannesburg. The bodies are then grouped in fives and buried together in nine-feet-deep holes.

The graves are marked by insignia that read basic information such as “Unknown B/Male” in areas labeled with plaques that read “Pauper Block.”

African migrants come to the province of Guateng looking for work in the prospering underground economy.

Authorities keep DNA records of the diseased which are used to build a database for the purpose of identifying the bodies in the future.

This type of report is very difficult, and it can only be considered an approximation since there are difficulties in obtaining accurate information. For example, many families do not report their missing because of their illegal status, or for a lack of knowledge of their destinations and whereabouts after leaving home.

The anti-immigration sentiment, which translates to concrete political policies, both the in the United States and Europe is generating a decrease in funding for migrant support projects which means fewer resources are allocated to tracking migrants, according to The Republic.

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Humanitarian Ship seeks European Port for Rescued Migrants

More than 650,000 migrants have come to Italy’s shores since 2014, but the numbers of new arrivals have plunged over the past year, with Rome encouraging the Libyan coastguard to carry out most of the rescues.

Human rights groups called on European governments on Sunday to tell a charity ship where it can dock and let more than 140 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean disembark in safety.

RELATED: Spain Takes in Drifting Migrant Ship Aquarius as UN, EU Slam Italy Over Refusing It

The Aquarius, run by Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders (MSF), rescued 141 people in two separate operations off the Libyan coast last week.

The boat had just started heading north on Sunday toward Europe when Libyan coastguards called it back to pick up 10 migrants spotted aboard a small fiberglass boat.

As that rescue was underway, SOS Mediterranee and MSF asked for guidance on where to take those they had saved.

“What is of utmost importance is that the survivors are brought to a place of safety without delay, where their basic needs can be met and where they can be protected from abuse,” said Nick Romaniuk, search and rescue coordinator for SOS Mediterranee.

SOS Mediterranee and MSF accused the Libyan coastguard on Sunday of endangering lives by not telling the Aquarius there were boats close to it that were in distress. They also said other ships in the area had apparently ignored the migrants.

“Ships might be unwilling to respond to those in distress due to the high risk of being stranded and denied a place of safety,” said Aloys Vimard, MSF’s project coordinator on board the Aquarius. “Policies designed to prevent people from reaching Europe at all costs are resulting in more suffering and forcing those who are already vulnerable to take even riskier journeys to safety.”

The Aquarius has operated in the central Mediterranean since early 2016 and says it has helped more than 29,000 people in distress, many of them African migrants, who, until this summer, were brought swiftly to Italy without any incident.

However, when a populist government took office in Rome in June, it immediately shut its ports to all NGO boats, accusing them of encouraging illegal immigration and helping human smugglers — charges the charities deny.

In June, the orange-hulled Aquarius picked up 629 migrants, including scores of children and seven pregnant women, but first Italy and then Malta refused to let it dock, provoking a row within the heart of the European Union over immigration policy.

Spain eventually agreed to take in the boat, but there was no indication of where the Aquarius might head on Sunday, with Malta immediately refusing it access and Italy saying at the weekend it would not be welcome at any of its ports.

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ICE denies hunger strike by immigrants at Texas detention center

(Reuters) - A group of immigrant fathers, recently reunified with their sons and detained in Texas, have gone on a hunger strike to demand their release, an immigrant rights group representing them said on Thursday.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said there had not been a hunger strike by residents of the Karnes County Residential Center, about 51 miles (82 km) southeast of San Antonio.

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“On Aug. 2, a small group of fathers and their children (fewer than 50 total) staged a brief sit-in and expressed their concerns about their immigration cases,” ICE said in a statement. The residents “appreciated the information and dispersed.”

It was not immediately clear how many fathers were in the group.

The immigrants said they were being held at the detention center with no notification from authorities on their immigration status, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) said.

Fathers had staged sit-ins, children were refusing to take part in school activities, and some fathers had started a hunger strike, RAICES spokeswoman Jennifer Falcon said on a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

“The dads are on a hunger strike and they are refusing to obey any directions from ICE and GEO guards,” she said, referring to private contractor GEO Group Inc (GEO.N) which runs the center. The hunger strike was said to have begun on Wednesday.

GEO did not respond to a request for comment.

Asked later to respond to the ICE statement, Falcon told Reuters: “There’s definitely a strike.”

She added that the group had audio recordings of the fathers saying they were on hunger strike.

U.S. President Donald Trump has made a hard-line stance on immigration an integral part of his presidency and has promised to keep immigrants targeted for deportation locked up “pending the outcome of their removal proceedings.”

Some 2,500 children were separated from their parents as part of a “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal immigration that began in early May. Many of them had crossed the U.S.-Mexican border illegally, while others had sought asylum. The U.S. government said last week it had reunited just over half of them.

Fathers at the Karnes center said they were misled into agreeing to deportation as a condition of seeing their children again, RAICES said. Others said they had not been given the opportunity to apply for asylum.

A federal judge in San Diego indefinitely suspended deportations last month.

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Migrants In US Custody Describe Life In 'Ice Boxes' And 'Dog Pounds'

During their detention last month in a US Customs and Border Protection facility in Laredo, Texas, Karen and her two young sons were constantly cold. The family, which fled violence in Honduras, slept on a hard floor in a holding cell without mattresses, she said, their clothes still wet from crossing the Rio Grande.

"I can only hold one at a time to keep them warm. Whoever I am not holding is cold," she said in one of more than 200 sworn statements filed this week in a long-running lawsuit challenging conditions for children in immigration custody.

The statements, which were taken in June and July and identify immigrants only by their first names, provide a rare window into life in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities. Migrants like Karen and her children who crossed into the United States illegally, as well as those who applied for asylum at the border, are often held in such facilities before being released or transferred to longer-term detention centres.

A nursing mother named Serafin, who said she fled Mexico after a cartel member threatened to rape her and kill her baby, said she was given too little food at a facility in San Ysidro, California.

"I am not producing enough breast milk to feed my baby because I am not eating enough," she said in her statement. "My daughter cries a lot because she is hungry."

A woman named Mayra said her 9-year-old son became fearful after their detention in Nogales, Arizona, where he saw children separated from their parents.

"He saw someone bound with chains and asked me whether I would be chained in the same way," she said. "He wonders when we will get to the United States. I do not tell him that we are already here. He wouldn't believe that the United States would treat us this way."

4ronbkrgFew immigrants said that conditions were adequate, most described cold temperatures, too little food.

LONG-RUNNING LAWSUIT

The statements were taken by attorneys for plaintiffs in a case brought against the U.S. government in 1985 on behalf of 15-year-old Jenny L. Flores. A 1997 settlement in the lawsuit set standards for humane treatment of children in detention and ordered their prompt release in most cases.

This week, the plaintiffs filed papers alleging that the detention conditions described in the declarations violate the humane treatment standards set out in the settlement, including speedy release of children.

"We now see many in CBP custody for three to six days," up from two to three days in prior months, said Peter Schey, the lead attorney for plaintiffs in the Flores case.

Reuters was unable to speak directly to the migrants who gave declarations because they weren't fully identified in the filing, and most of them are still in detention.

CBP referred requests for comment on the migrant statements to the Department of Justice, which declined to comment. In the past, CBP has defended conditions in its facilities.

In a report filed in the Flores case last month, CBP juvenile coordinator Henry Moak Jr. said that the department makes extensive efforts "to ensure all minors in CBP custody are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors."

He said parents and children he interviewed had "received meals and snacks; had access to drinking water, functioning toilets, and functioning sinks; and were held in rooms that were maintained at an appropriate temperature."

He also noted, however, that CBP should ensure that food was not kept past its expiration date and that custodial data was consistently entered into records.

Moak referred requests for comment to CBP.

'ICE BOXES' AND 'DOG POUNDS'

Reports of harsh conditions in CBP facilities have surfaced repeatedly for years, including again recently when the government began separating children and parents. The new declarations are remarkable both for the number of detainee voices and the consistency of detail in what they report.

While a few immigrants said that conditions were adequate, most described cold temperatures, too little food, difficult separations from their children and crowded cells without enough sleeping mats. They said latrines were dirty and lacked privacy and that lights stayed on day and night.

James Tomsheck, who served as assistant commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection for internal affairs from 2006 to 2014, told Reuters that the facilities were designed for brief stays.

oejtjgm8Reports of harsh conditions in CBP facilities have surfaced repeatedly for years. (Reuters)

"There is no question that the amount of time persons are being held at these, what are designed to be temporary detention facilities, has become much longer than it was intended."

Detainees refer to some of the facilities as "hieleras," Spanish for "ice boxes" because they are so cold. Larger spaces with indoor fencing are referred to as "perreras" or "dog pounds."

Children in the facilities were often held in separate cells from their parents, according to the statements.

A woman named Leydi, held in Chula Vista, California, described watching young children trying to touch their parents through metal fences.

"The mothers tried to reach their children, and I saw children pressing up against the fence of the cage to try to reach out," she said. "But officials pulled the children away and yelled at their mothers."

John Sandweg, acting director of ICE from 2013 to 2014, said the problems stem from the fact that holding areas were designed to lock up adults for just a few hours while CBP processed paperwork.

"They're inappropriate, frankly, for children," he said.

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