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politics

U.S. Balks at Emergency Bid to Inspect Migrant Detention Sites

U.S. Balks at Emergency Bid to Inspect Migrant Detention Sites

  • Human rights activists seek medical care for detained minors
  • Children said to be held for weeks in deplorable conditions

The U.S. government urged a federal judge to deny an emergency request by human rights lawyers for an inspection of Customs and Border Protection facilities in Texas where minors are allegedly held for weeks in squalid conditions.

The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law says the facilities in El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley constitute a public health emergency and asked that independent medical professionals be given access to children held there.

In response, lawyers for the Trump administration said Thursday the request will impose "extensive obligations" on the government. They also argued the U.S. deserves a full and fair opportunity to respond to the allegations before the judge issues a decision.

Homeland Chief’s Risk of Ouster Seen Adding to Chaos at Border

The Los Angeles judge overseeing the dispute has been the chief enforcer of a 1997 agreement in which the U.S. committed to release children from immigration detention without unnecessary delay, either to relatives or to a facility that is state-licensed to care for minors.

In their request for a so-called temporary restraining order, the human rights lawyers said the children at the Texas border facilities are held for weeks in deplorable conditions without access to soap, clean water, showers, clothing, toilets, toothbrushes, adequate nutrition or sufficient sleep. Due the lack of basic hygiene, flu is spreading among the children who aren’t receiving medical assessments or treatment, according to their filing late Wednesday.

"Unless these unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the El Paso and Rio Grande sector facilities are cured right away, the spread of illness will continue, endangering children’s lives," the lawyers said.

They asked that the judge order the government to bring the facilities in compliance with the 1997 Flores agreement by delegating oversight to a public health expert, allowing medical professionals to see the children and expediting release of the minors.

The case is Flores v. Barr, 85-cv-04544, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).