Children at the border: the crisis that America wasn't prepared for

"The US immigration system is failing to accommodate children and families seeking legal asylum," according to this article from the Guardian. "The facilities are so ill-equipped for the detention of children that [Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)] cannot hold unaccompanied minors, anyone under 18 who is not with a parent or legal guardian, for more than 72 hours. After that period, CBP is supposed to release such migrants to the Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR), an agency within the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which matches them with shelters," says the article. However, a group of volunteer lawyers and doctors has discovered that many children are being held at these processing facilities beyond the 72 hour limit. The group has filed a lawsuit against the federal government for keeping children in these conditions, a violation of the Flores Agreement which "guarantees migrant children be kept in safe and sanitary conditions" and has called for "immediate inspection of processing centers by public health officials, to 'prevent more illnesses and deaths at the border'”. The article describes the poor conditions of these facilities, including the confinement of children and lack of basic sanition and hygiene. 

Though the Trump administation's "zero tolerance policy" of separating children from their parents or families has ended, children continue to be separated and placed in dentention centers without their familial guardians, according to the article, due to an executive order that "still gives the government the right to separate children from their families 'where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources'”. Meanwhile, the administration has also shut down many of the existing avenues out of detention including cancelling a refugee program for children from Central America and no longer permitting children to be placed with family or community members as they await asylum hearings.