Migrant Children Being Moved in and Out of Texas Facility, Some Have Not Communicated With Families

A Guatemalan diplomat who visited the detention facility in Texas where lawyers denounced unsanitary conditions that led to the transfer of hundreds of migrant children away from the center said his office can verify the health and safety of his country's children in the facility but remains concerned that some are being moved in and out of the center and have not been allowed to contact their families. "We spoke to them and were able to establish their emotional well-being and health," Tekandi Paniagua, the consul general of Guatemala in Del Rio, said in a message to news outlets after touring the facility in Clint, about 20 miles southeast of El Paso, on Wednesday.Last week, a group of lawyers who toured the site said the 250 migrants in the facility were being neglected by U.S. authorities and had inadequate food, water and sanitation. Immigration authorities moved the children out of the facility following the allegations, but returned 100 of them to the site Tuesday after saying the overcrowding at the facility had been alleviated. Paniagua said during his visit the facility housed about 125 children, 54 of them Guatemalan. He praised the conditions at the facility, saying he'd never had a problem with the site, which he's visited on multiple occasions."I think it's one of the more modern buildings the Border Patrol has and is adequate for processing children because of its temperature-control and natural light," he said. "I've never had a major complaint about the food or of the treatment [of children]." But Paniagua said he's repeatedly warned about overcrowding at holding facilities and that his office's observations could be substantially different from what lawyers saw last week. "What I've said and what I've maintained all along is that one changing factor that has to do with this immigration situation is capacity," he said. "The people who came in before could have observed other types of conditions. I'd imagine, surely, they saw many more kids than what I saw today."While Paniagua said his office verified the migrant children were well-treated and fed properly, he remained concerned that children were being moved in and out of the facility without a discernible protocol. He said some children had been transferred to other centers or annexes to which his office had not been granted access. Paniagua said he planned to meet with Border Patrol sector leaders on Thursday to get answers. "We are going to ask, 'What is the criteria for transferring children?'" he said. "There were children who'd been transferred twice and then returned to the station in Clint. We want to know exactly what is happening. Where are they taking them, why and how can we see them?"Paniagua also said many of the children had not yet been able to contact their families in Guatemala."We've asked Border Patrol to give these communications priority," he said. Paniagua said his office would keep telling Guatemalans that the conditions for migrating to the U.S. were dangerous and that bringing a child did not guarantee a legal status. "We keep repeating that undergoing this journey to the United States under the conditions that these children are doing is not adequate. You put your lives at risk," he said.   Continue reading...

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