As more and more children are detained at the US border by US Customs and Border Protection, the reports coming out of the detention facilities have become more and more disheartening. Overcrowding, substandard facilities, poor medical care, and poor treatment by security officers have lead to deaths of people in detainment. Now pediatricians working at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas have released imaged drawn by children who had just been released by CBP.
"The fact that the drawings are so realistic and horrific gives us a view into what these children have experienced," said Dr. Colleen Kraft, immediate past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "When a child draws this, it's telling us that child felt like he or she was in jail."
There have been longstanding concerns about health care in these detention facilities, especially after 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo and 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin passed away while in captivity. The chief concern is that the law enforcement are not trained to spot medical care issues. The two children died of the flu and sepsis, conditions that can be easily overlooked. The original plan was to have organizations like American Academy of Pediatrics to train security personnel.
From the CNN article
"We have pediatricians who would volunteer to go to the border tomorrow and work with these children and advise medical personnel and train them," she added. "That's still our ask, but it's gotten nowhere."
A pediatrician caring for migrant children at an El Paso hospital said CBP's screening for children in its custody is "absolutely and unequivocally inadequate."
Dr. Kraft said now the situation has gone "backwards" with the "horrible" conditions where the children are living.
"This is truly a very dark spot in US history," she said. "This will be remembered as a time when the US was cruel to immigrant children. It makes me wonder what kind of country are we that that we would treat children this way."