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Trump team jailed more than a dozen infants in unsanitary conditions

ICE was holding 16 infants under the age of 1 at a detention center in Texas that put the babies at risk.

By Emily Singer - March 05, 2019
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had detained 16 infants under the age of 1 at a migrant detention center in Texas, in facilities immigration advocates called unsanitary and unsafe, CBS News reported late Monday night.

The infants being held in the ICE detention center were sick and faced unsanitary conditions including dirty water, lack of medical care and limited quantities of baby food, Katy Murdza, advocacy coordinator at the American Immigration Council’s Dilley Pro Bono Project, told CBS News.

“Every mother I spoke to said that her child was sick in some way,” Murdza told CBS News. “It’s just really hard seeing all of these very small babies in a detention setting.”

A dozen of the 16 infants have now been released. But the whereabouts of the four other infants is not clear, according to the CBS News report.

According to CBS, ICE blamed the spike in detained infants on an influx of migrants on the southern border.

However, ICE usually doesn’t detain asylum-seeking mothers with babies unless they are determined to be a danger or flight risk. And given infants are incapable of caring for themselves, it stretches the imagination to think they could pose a risk to the public.

“It’s very disturbing and ludicrous that ICE is saying we have to make an assessment as to whether a five-month-old is a danger or flight risk,” Katie Shepherd, National Advocacy Counsel for the Immigration Justice Campaign at the American Immigration Council, told CBS News.

This is not the first time the Trump administration’s detention of children and pregnant mothers has caused an uproar.

Two children have died in U.S. custody since the Trump administration implemented its needless “zero-tolerance” policy, which forces migrants exercising their right to claim asylum at the border to be detained until their claims can be heard.

The first death was on Dec. 8, 2018, when a 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died from shock and dehydration, while another 8-year-old Guatemalan child died in custody on Christmas Day 2018.

Similarly, the number of pregnant women who have miscarried in U.S. custody also spiked since the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy was implemented.

Still, Trump has touted his zero-tolerance policy and his push to end “catch and release” — in which vulnerable asylum-seeking migrants like pregnant women and families with children are released into the U.S. until they have a court date on their asylum claim.

And Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has defended her boss, Trump, on the issue — despite the fact that these policies have led to these vulnerable populations being held in unsafe and unsanitary detention facilities.

“Illegal actions have and must have consequences, no more free passes, no more get out of jail free cards,” Nielsen said back in June. “In communities every day, if you commit a crime police will take you to jail regardless of whether you have a family.”

While the White House has claimed to be “pro-life,” their jailing of infants and pregnant women suggests they are anything but.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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