The government has moved about 100 migrant children to a Texas border patrol facility dogged by allegations that it was housing minors without providing adequate food or access to soap and toothpaste, a Border Patrol official said Tuesday.
Almost 300 migrant children had been removed from the facility in the town of Clint after a series of media reports chronicling its conditions were published in recent days. Lawyers who visited the facility last week described dirty and potentially dangerous conditions that they said were "appalling."
Amid an outcry over their living situation, those children were taken to a tent detention camp in El Paso, Texas. Roughly 30 remained at the Clint facility, according to Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas. Customs and Border Protection then transported the new group of about 100 migrant children to the site Tuesday because other facilities were stretched past capacity, the official said.
It was not clear how many of the new arrivals were previously held at the same facility. Many of the original 300 children at Clint have been sent to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The agency official said the allegations of inadequate food and sanitation are being "taken seriously" and have been referred to the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees CBP.
"I personally don’t believe the allegations," the official added.
Federal law requires unaccompanied or separated migrant children be transferred to HHS custody within 72 hours, though many children at the facility had been there for weeks, according to the lawyers who visited the site. The children remain under CBP custody until they can be placed with HHS.
Migrant children are increasingly finding themselves stuck on concrete benches or even outside at Border Patrol stations, with HHS close to exceeding its capacity, NBC News previously reported.
El Paso-based immigration attorney Taylor Levy said that she has worked with siblings ages six and 10 who were in the Clint facility for 14 days, well past the 72-hour legal limit.
"Treating these children in this manner is just completely unacceptable," Levy said. When asked whether it was a funding problem or a management problem, she responded: "I think it's definitely a management problem."
CBP currently has about 1,000 children in its custody, down from 2,600 one week ago. The agency official declined to say where the rest of the children are being held.