In response to an outcry about the horrific conditions of a US Border Patrol holding station in Clint, Texas, the US Department of Homeland Security announced in June that nearly 250 children would be moved into facilities for children operated by the US Department of Health and Human Services. 

The move came after a group of lawyers and doctors, including lawyers from Human Rights Watch, revealed that hundreds of children in Border Patrol facilities had been left to care for themselves in overcrowded cells. They didn’t have access to showers, clean clothes, or even enough food. Many slept on concrete floors and didn’t have enough blankets to protect them from the frigid air conditioning. Many of them had been separated from parents and other adult caregivers.

Our advocacy, including first-hand reporting from the facility, helped ignite the public outcry that led to the decision to remove children from these unacceptable conditions. 

Nearly 100 children were shortly afterwards returned to the Clint Border Patrol station, though most of these children were also eventually moved to Health and Human Services facilities. 

Soon afterwards, Human Rights Watch senior researcher Clara Long testified before the House Oversight Committee, sharing her first-hand account of what she had witnessed. 

Detention does children lasting harm, and children should not be held in immigration detention. 

Human Rights Watch will continue to shed light on how children and adults are treated in immigration detention and by the immigration system more generally. We will also continue pressing the US government to release all children from detention. Many children in immigration detention have parents or other relatives in the US who are willing to take care of them. In placing children with these relatives wherever appropriate, the US would help protect children’s rights, and children would avoid the harm incurred in detention.