Warren Binford, a professor of law at Willamette University, was one of the inspectors who turned whistleblower over the conditions in which children were being held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at a place known as the Clint facility near El Paso, Texas.
Binford, a scholar of children’s rights, was one of a group of specialist who visited these facilities, which hold these children in immigration detention. CBP only granted the inspectors a visit when a court mandated them to do so. The hideous conditions in which she and other inspectors found the children have made national news.
“They are worse than actual prison conditions. It is inhumane. It’s nothing that I ever imagined seeing in the United States of America.” Binford told NPR. “And that’s why we have gone to the press. We never go to the media about our site visits.”
Binford said the extreme conditions she and other witnessed were enough to persuade other attorneys involved that they needed to make this information public.
She describes hundreds of children, from very young to early teens, sleeping on concrete floors, given instant meals, and that some had not showered in weeks. They are reportedly not allowed outside. Guards assigned the care of a 2-year-old to a 10-year old. Many of them are sick, sad, and traumatized. During a recent lice outbreak, guards provided hundreds of children with two individual lice combs, to share among themselves. When the children lost one, the guards punished them by taking away their blankets, in some cases their only bedding.
The outcry following these reports caused the resignation of then-CBP Commissioner John Sanders. Mark Morgan, currently the head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is expected to take over the agency.
Morgan made news in January when appearing on FOX News, claiming that he has “I’ve been to the detention facilities where I’ve walked up to be these individuals that are so-called minors, 17 or under…and I’ve looked at their eyes…and I said that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member. It’s unequivocal.”
By Ian MacRonald