Mexico to Monitor USA’s Migrant Detention Centers
Mexico to Monitor USA’s Migrant Detention Centers
Mexico’s detention centers would benefit from some oversight. Instead, the country has announced intentions to monitor US care of migrant families with minors.
DHS has issued new guidelines on how the Trump administration will implement the detention of family units. Previously the Flores decision was the standard. Deanna Fisher touches on the recently announced changes in yesterday’s VG blog.
Mexico’s Foreign Ministry rapidly released a response to the policy change.
In accordance with Mexico’s unwavering commitment to protect migrant children and adolescents, the office of the Undersecretary for North America, through the embassy and consulates in the United States, will carefully monitor conditions at the centers and continue to provide consular assistance and protection to Mexican families detained under these new rules.”
Mexico, considered by many to be a narco state, has the audacity of self importance to publicly proclaim the right to monitor US detention center conditions. This statement clearly ignores the sovereignty of the USA to implement its own immigration laws and policies. Furthermore, Mexico’s own detention centers are far from superior.
The Homestead Florida minor facility, February 2019
The standard for centers in Mexico is, for the most part, well below that of the USA. As the Washington Post reports,
many of the approximately 60 detention centers where migrants are held are ill-equipped for the numbers of detainees who have arrived. Basic hygiene, including showers and functioning toilets, is in short supply; so is medical attention.”
In addition to substandard basic hygiene and medical care, newly released migrants are at risk from predatory Mexican gangs who use kidnapping as a tool of extorting money from the migrant’s families. These gangs are ruthless, and indiscriminate in choosing their victims. Families released in states under the de facto control of Narco’s are especially at risk. The US State Department advised,
“Armed criminal groups target public and private passenger buses as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments … Federal and state security forces have limited capability to respond to violence in many parts of the state.”
The unprecedented numbers of family units (FU) coming across the border are stressing a US system previously unprepared to accommodate young children and minors. Despite overwhelming waves, DHS is following the procedure of establishing paternity or legal custody of the children with the accompanying adult.
When possible, families are kept together. However, the Flores decision prevented children from being held longer than 20 days, but often the adult immigration process takes much longer. This means that children must be removed from parental custody while the adult awaits the immigration process.
After being processed, including medical assessments and treatment, the families are detained by ICE. Once the limit has passed, the kids are remanded to the custody of HHS. Health and Human Services then cares for them until they can be reunited with their families. The minors are kept in a facility or placed in care homes. They are not misplaced, or lost. The most recent complaint is that the English language classes and recreation access are being reduced.
Is keeping kids from their parents ideal? Of course not. But the conditions are not dissimilar to those of children reminded to the foster care system when their parents are deemed unfit, or go to jail.
Contrast this to the facilities in Mexico, from an August, 9th Reuters report,
Known as Las Agujas, the Mexico City holding center enclosed by spike-topped walls in the eastern district of Iztapalapa held about 108 minors as of this week, some of whom are unaccompanied. Guarded watch towers overlook the four corners of the high-walled compound in the heart of a residential neighborhood. Its concrete walls and green metal spikes contrast with a flower-muraled elementary school down the block.
Mexico has acknowledged the issues within their facilities. The difference is they are slow to respond. This article from the AP shows that the problems can take years to fix.
Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission says a migrant detention center in the capital suffers from bedbugs, bad food and overcrowding. The governmental commission on Friday said the issues were pointed out more than a year ago and still haven’t been resolved. It also said the Las Agujas center needed fumigation and better training for employees.
The latest DHS plan is to reunite families while the parent(s) await immigration hearings. USAToday writes,
ICE’s three facilities for holding families include two in Texas – the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City and the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley – and the Family Residential Center in Berks County, Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the facility has suites for each family and separate wings for classroom learning and medical treatment.
If the reports are correct, these facilities seem to surpass even the nicest holding facility in Mexico. Maybe they can monitor ours and improve theirs. Are they educating the children in their custody? Do they provide adequate medical care? Immunizations and formula? There is no definitive answer on what they provide to the children in their care.
There is a definitive answer on Mexico’s absolute disregard for their own failing detention centers. The risk of extortion, kidnapping, and a failure to rectify the most basic of institutional hygiene standards is apparent. Yet Mexico is so satisfied with their own system, that they feel confident to monitor and criticize the one in the US.