More Whistleblowers Report Abuses At Migrant Child Intake Facility In Texas - Rights Group

More Whistleblowers Report Abuses at Migrant Child Intake Facility in Texas - Rights Group

EL PASO (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 29th July, 2021) Additional whistleblowers have come forward to reveal abuses and poor conditions at a federal care facility for migrant children in the state of Texas, the Government Accountability Project said in a letter to the US administration and Congress.

"This is Government Accountability Project's second protected whistleblower disclosure concerning abuses and mismanagement at the Fort Bliss Emergency Intake Site (EIS) operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)," the letter said on Wednesday.

The two additional whistleblowers named in the letter are Arthur Pearlstein, Director of Arbitration and of the Office of Shared Neutrals at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and Lauren Reinhold, an Attorney-Adviser at the Social Security Administration.

The letter said private contractors, not federal employees, are essentially in charge of all operations at the facility.

Pearlstein and Reinhold, according to the testimony, spoke to dozens of children who had been at the facility for more than 30 days, some even exceeding 60 days, the letter said. Many of those children had not received an update from their case managers in over a month, while some migrant children had not been told they had a case manager.

In addition, the letter said hundreds of migrant children contracted COVID-19 because of the overcrowded conditions, which eventually spread to employees as well.

The facility at Fort Bliss houses up to 1,200 migrant children.

Pearlstein interviewed dozens of migrant children who had symptoms of depression, including some with suicidal thoughts, the letter said. Some of the migrant children told him they felt like they were in prison and often begged to be let out because they could not take it anymore, some migrant children even tried to escape the facility, the letter added.

Some counselors were suited to help the migrant children, but there were others who had no prior training or expertise, the letter said.

Bullying was common in the facility and there were riots in some of the tents housing the migrant boys, the letter said.

The letter also pointed out that filth is commonplace in the facility, including shortages of undergarments and other clothing for the migrant children.

Pearlstein worked in the facility from April to June while Reinhold worked there for the month of May.

US Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that as of Tuesday there are 1,982 migrant children in the custody of Customs and Border Protection and 13,833 migrant children in HHS care.