Border Patrol isn’t supposed to detain kids for longer than 72 hours, but the agency routinely violates this restriction, keeping some jailed for weeks at a time in awful conditions. Its excuse? Health and Human Services, where these kids are supposed to be sent after those maximum 72 hours, is full. But that’s not true, HHS is saying. “We received every child that was referred to us,” HHS spokesperson Mark Weber told BuzzFeed News.
Aaron Hull, a top Border Patrol official, had told state television Fox News that HHS “constraints” meant his agency would be forced to keep kids detained longer, in violation of the 72-hour rule. “We can’t hand them over to ICE and Health and Human Services because they have their own resource constraints,” he claimed. “The aliens tend to build up in our custody and that’s really what this is about.”
The “aliens”—many of us know them as “children”—have been kept in conditions unfit for any human being. The cruelty, however, as with so many of the Trump administration’s actions, is intentional. “HHS said that while it was consistently running close to capacity for the past several months,” BuzzFeed News continued, “it was able to unify enough children with their parents or family members to have beds available.”
Children don’t belong in detention, but they especially don’t belong in the grasp of Border Patrol, an agency that is rotten from top to bottom. “Wow,” tweeted immigrant rights leader Frank Sharry. “The whole DHS premise of overcrowding in Border Patrol facilities was that ORR bed space was oversubscribed. Turns out to be another lie. Cruelty is the policy.”