'Every day, I feel really sad': Migrant children still in temporary sites for prolonged periods, attorneys say
June 22, 2021 at 02:25
(CNN) Migrant children who crossed the US-Mexico border alone are still spending prolonged time in temporary government facilities, raising concerns among attorneys, who say the conditions are inadequate for kids, according to a court filing Monday.
In more than a dozen declarations filed Monday, children reported varying conditions across the sites, from receiving undercooked food to limited access to showers.
They have conducted site visits and interviewed children at the majority of the pop-up sites, which were initially intended for short stays.
"Plaintiffs are increasingly concerned about the prolonged detention of thousands of children in unlicensed, standardless [emergency intake site] facilities, which are, at best, suitable for short-term emergency care and are inherently incapable of caring for children as the Settlement requires," the filing reads.
As of Sunday, there were 14,467 children in the custody of the Health and Human Services Department, many of whom were staying at emergency intake sites.
Hundreds of children have spent 60 days or longer in emergency intake sites, Monday's filing says.
The delays sparked confusion among children, who reported feeling desperate to reunite with family in the US.
The teen has been at an emergency intake site in Pecos, Texas, for 62 days, waiting to reunite with an uncle in Maryland.
Conditions at emergency intake sites can vary -- and regularly change -- but in some cases, the rapid pace at which sites were set up contributed to their shortcomings.
CNN previously reported on a facility in Texas that attorneys likened to "warehousing" children.
Attorneys also found issues at other large sites, where hundreds of children live in close quarters.
While the administration has tried to expedite releases in some cases, attorneys found case management services are still lacking, leading children to stay in facilities for longer periods.