Poor conditions at Texas facility for migrant children alleged by whistleblower complaint

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 8:33 AM CDT
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EL PASO, Texas (KFOX) – A whistleblower complaint presented to Congress on Wednesday alleges poor conditions for migrant children housed at the Fort Bliss facility near El Paso.

The testimony comes from two people who volunteered to work at the facility between April and June.

The report details allegations of filthy conditions and a lack of adequate mental health care at the temporary facility.

“These are current federal employees who have worked at the facility, who, frankly, are shocked at the conditions and the treatment of these children,” said David Seide, senior counsel for the nonpartisan, nonprofit Government Accountability Project.

Seide is representing the whistleblowers.

“The issues that our clients have reported on relate to the abuses of those children through neglect,” he said.

The report says migrant children, including some with suicidal thoughts, were referred to staff who were not qualified to assess their trauma and mental health needs.

The complaint is the second one the nonprofit has filed about the facility in less than a month.

“They need to find qualified people to work at these facilities so the children are well cared for,” Seide said. “We think that by shining a light on this stuff, it is essentially going to compel the agency, HHS, to fix the problem.”

Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the temporary shelter, didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

But last month after similar allegations, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra visited the site and said: “We always undertake to look into any allegation or report of harm or lack of service, or abuse. And so that is done, not only on an ongoing basis but immediately upon receiving the report. We have obligations under law to do that, and it’s just the right thing to do.”

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