Close Inhumane, For-Profit Migrant Detention Centers

Target: Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services

Goal: Close the Fort Bliss detention center and abolish for-profit migrant childcare shelter systems.

Dozens of makeshift emergency migrant intake centers opened and closed last year to handle 2021’s steepest border apprehension numbers in 15 years. Since their inception, the centers have faced criticism by advocacy groups citing abusively inadequate services, prolonged stays, decaying facilities and lack of transparency. It is time to close these grossly mismanaged, inhumane “shelters” and cease outsourcing childcare to for-profit, detached businesses with no relevant experience.

Pesco and Fort Bliss detention sites remain, despite the country caring for fewer than 900 migrant children (according to the Department of Health and Human Services) so far this year. Both have a history of horrendous mismanagement. Complaints by federal workers and attorneys alike have been filed against the “megasite” in response to reports of sickness, slow case response times, mental health concerns and dangerous inattentiveness. Jonathan Ryan, lawyer with Raices (non-profit) reported that the children he met with felt “‘confined, distressed and like they [were] being punished.’” A director at the International Rescue Committee recently commented on Fort Bliss’ plan to increase capacity, and in extension profit, by 10,000 beds, lamenting that it was “‘hard to imagine this being in the best interest of the children.” 

Atop it all, there is money being made from this. In September 2021, the El Paso Times made public Fort Bliss’ private contract with Rapid Development Inc. – a business with a history of government contracts and a stark lack of experience in matters of youth migrant care and nuanced human services. The investigation revealed that Fort Bliss was outsourcing their services to this non-government entity for which they received $1 billion.

The children who cross our border deserve humane treatment, and a place of temporary rest that is dedicated to finding them permanent, safe homes. Sign below to demand the closing of the Fort Bliss detention centers and support the development of nonprofit shelters for migrant children.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Becerra, 

We have the largest immigration detention system in the world, according to the National Immigration Justice Center, and our federal government spends more on immigration enforcement than on any other enforcement agency. The Fort Bliss intake site is currently the largest shelter in the nation for migrant children.

The Trump-era child detention centers were a stain on our modern history that continues to grow. The Biden administration has enacted artificial changes but the fact remains that vulnerable migrant children are housed in overcrowded, ill-equipped military-like encampments run by companies with an eye for profit and nothing else. 

We demand the immediate closure of the Fort Bliss intake center as well as the abolishment of current and future establishments of for-profit migrant shelters. 

Sincerely, 

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: uusc4all


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