Whenever an election comes around, people want to know about candidates’ position on “family values.” Most of the time when people talk about family values they mean where a candidate stands on marriage or abortion. Very rarely does this coded language include genuine concern about families because if it did, we wouldn’t see the continued abuse of migrant children and families at the border under the Trump’s administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
released heart-wrenching photos of migrant families at the McAllen, Texas
Border Patrol station that show children sleeping outside on the ground, some
covered by Mylar blankets. Another photo shows a woman clutching a child and
leaning against a wall. All of the photos confirm the horrific conditions
migrants face at the hands of the U.S. government.
The article states:
An official from the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Customs and Border Protection, responded to the photos in a statement saying in part: ‘As multiple DHS officials have been warning for months, the border security and humanitarian crisis continues to worsen. Current facilities and funding are inadequate for migrant flows.’ The official cited the administration’s request for additional resources to house migrants, and legislative changes to stem the flow of migrants.
Investigations into the conditions at holding stations and
in detention centers have already uncovered inhumane conditions and gross
abuses. We’ve heard audio
of children crying for their parents and families, and we’ve seen the
videos of children who’ve been reunited with their parents and the concerning
behavior they demonstrated after the trauma of being ripped from their families
for months. On Mother’s Day, the Phenomenal
Women Action Campaign and Families Belong Together mobilized mothers all
over the country and launched the Phenomenal Mother Movement in an attempt to stand
in solidarity with migrant families and raise awareness.
When are we going to get real? If we don’t think about the
conditions of migrant children and families in these holding stations and
detention centers and demand answers from the administration, then we can’t honestly
say we care about family values. You can’t compartmentalize immigration and
If you want to learn more about how you can help, please check out the
Adelanto, California is home to a large detention facility run by the GEO Group – the largest private prison company contracting with Immigration and Custom Enforcement to incarcerate immigrants. Last month the city-manager announced that the city would end its agreement with ICE to manage the facility. What might look like a local victory to cut ties with a detention facility is, under the surface, an apparent move by the GEO Group to escape local and state oversight. Liz Martinez of Freedom for Immigrants and others expressed their concerns in a report in the Guardian yesterday:
Martinez and other critics fear Geo is manipulating local officials and hoping to directly contract with Ice. Without a local government involved in the contract, the company could sidestep a new, strict state law that restricts and regulates the private prison industry…
“If you’ve got a communication string just between Ice and a private facility, there’s obviously going to be a lot less transparency, which leads to less accountability,” said Phil Torrey, managing attorney of Harvard University’s immigration and refugee program. Torrey also noted that without the city involved in the contract, Ice and Geo would not have to comply with several disclosures required by federal and state law.
The decision emerged from an agreement between the city manager, Jessie Flores and ICE CEO, George Zoley, with no input from the city council or public comment. There was an effort to reopen discussion of the decision by the city council in late April, but the city’s attorney indicated that neither ICE or GEO group was willing to revisit the decision. GEO is likely looking to expand the facility – and the city could push back by refusing to issue land use permits. This looks like the next battle.
“We demand a just and proper [facility] closure that ensures everyone is released and has access to legal representation,” said Martinez of Freedom for Immigrants. “The city of Adelanto can’t simply wash their hands of this. They have an obligation to answer to the community and to intervene and prevent any future permitting of an expansion.”
The state of Georgia’s legislature created the Immigration Enforcement Review Panel in 2011 as part of a package of anti-immigration laws. The purpose of the panel, officially at least, was to hear complaints from individuals concerning the failure to enforce state immigration laws. The eight person panel, however, never achieved anything and simply became a platform for grandstanding. During its first six years the panel heard 20 complaints, all but one from the same person D.A. King, “the well-known anti-illegal immigration activist.”
The panel got into trouble during the last gubernatorial election:
Its demise was hastened last year by then-Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a candidate for governor who filed a complaint shortly before the GOP primary alleging that the city of Decatur was creating sanctuaries for criminals.The city’s officials accused Cagle of trying to use the board to pander to conservatives with a baseless claim, noting that the Republican quickly invoked his fight against the liberal bastion of Decatur in digital ads and stump speeches. Cagle failed to show up at a hearing on the complaint, and at another meeting weeks later, a board member challenged a Decatur attorney to “talk to me out in the hall” in a bizarre and testy confrontation.
The review panel was sued by the city of Decatur and lost, forced to pay the city’s attorney’s fees. The panel had become so unpopular, that even the staunchly anti-immigrant governor Brian Kemp signed off on legislation to shut it down.
Louisiana’s prison population is shrinking – but immigrant incarceration is growing
The state of Louisiana has doubled its capacity to detain immigrants under new contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in recent months. Already the site of the LaSalle ICE Processing Center in Jena, which is run by the GEO Group and holds 1,200 people, several Louisiana sherif departments have entered into agreements with ICE to detain immigrants. This comes as Louisiana’s incarceration rate, the highest in the country several years ago, has been falling following major reform legislation in 2017.
“It seemed that Louisiana was ready to move away from its dependence on mass incarceration through its efforts at justice reinvestment,” said Jamila Johnson, a senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. “It’s disheartening to see that it continues to rely heavily on it through its switch to the mass incarceration of civil detainees.”
This year, ICE began using River Correctional Center (500 beds), Jackson Parish Correctional Center (1,000 beds) and Richwood Correctional Center (1,000 beds) to house detainees, said Bryan Cox, an ICE spokesman.
Johnson said these efforts began in September after the agency contracted with Bossier Medium Security Facility in Bossier Parish to house up to 240 detainees.
The Dallas Morning News ran a nice profile of Father Roy Snipes, a Catholic priest, who has led the battle against the construction of the wall in Mission, Texas. If built as planned, the wall would cut off his small church, La Lomita, from the community. His and others’ efforts led Congress to include a ban on building a barrier around the church in a last minute budget deal this February. The victory is not certain, and Father Roy continues to speak out against the national mood on immigration:
The situation remains precarious. With this emergency, [Trump] can still take funds from somewhere else to build his wall,” said Snipes. “We are the world’s richest, most powerful and smartest [sic] people on earth, so we should be able to come out with something better than a damn wall. We need to remember our humanity, our decency and humility as a country and as a people.
From the first days of the presidential campaign Trump has peppered his stump speeches with claims that immigrants bring crime. He has never let up. While it is true that some immigrants commit crime, there is no evidence that increased immigration generally leads to more violent crime. None. No where. Last year a large study conducted by the Marshall Project, in collaboration with several universities, investigated the link between immigration and violent crime and concluded:
According to data from the study, a large majority of the areas have many more immigrants today than they did in 1980 and fewer violent crimes. The Marshall Project extended the study’s data up to 2016, showing that crime fell more often than it rose even as immigrant populations grew almost across the board.
In 136 metro areas, almost 70 percent of those studied, the immigrant population increased between 1980 and 2016 while crime stayed stable or fell. The number of areas where crime and immigration both increased was much lower — 54 areas, slightly more than a quarter of the total. The 10 places with the largest increases in immigrants all had lower levels of crime in 2016 than in 1980.
Faced with actual evidence, true believers changed the argument: immigration may not lead to increased crime overall, but “illegal” immigration doeslead to more violent crime.
Nope. Not true either. A new study by the Marshall Project that focused solely on the impact of undocumented migration similarly found no connection between undocumented immigration and increases in violent crime rates. The Marshall Project is not alone in these findings:
While the Donald and others preen about a crisis of “illegal” immigration, the reality is that immigration numbers are down – across the board. The recent spike in arrests at the border might seem like an exception – but two months is not yet a trend – and despite the panic exhibited by the GOP, even this spike is not that high by historical standards. Indeed, far from exceptional, it tracks with historical seasonal patterns where border crossing is higher in the spring. The crisis at the border is the disgraceful way people are being treated – not the number coming in.
That said, the U.S. Census Bureau released a detailed, county by county, map documenting migration patterns across the United States. The map breaks down “net immigration,” i.e. the number of immigrants who move into the United States, minus the number of people leaving the United States to move abroad. For the nation as a whole, net international immigration is down for last year: 978,826 people for 2017-2018 compared to 1,111,283 people in 2016-2017.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the country is unaffected. Geographically, 90% of the U.S. has seen either negative net immigration, no change, or an increase of 0-2 people per 1,000 residents. The parts of the country that have seen an increase tend to be larger cities; the state with the biggest growth rate being Florida.
There are exceptions. One is Beadle County, South Dakota which has the highest rate of growth at 26.8 net new immigrants per 1,000 residents (though the total number of new folk was just 499). The driving force there is meat packing. Dakota Provisions packs 200 million pounds of turkey a year in the county seat of Huron. Beadle County has also developed a reputation for being (relatively) welcoming of new folk, especially Karen refugees from Myanmar. According to an estimate from a few years ago, Karen immigrants held 1 out of 9 jobs in Huron, and the county was looking for ways to encourage more immigration while making their transition within the community easier.
Another outlier is Colifax County in Nebraska with a growth rate of 16.9 net new immigrants per 1,000 residents (193 total). Unlike Beadle County, however, Colifax is less officially welcoming. Nearby Fremont, for example, passed a city ordinance in 2016 banning the “harboring” or employing of undocumented immigrants. Last year, the city of Scribner in Colifax also considered an ordinance to ban the renting of housing to undocumented immigrants. Like Beadle County, the draw is meat packing. Costco is building a huge chicken processing facility in the area, and both the construction and the long-term employment are expected to bring immigrants into the community. Some of the nervousness from city officials is thus driven in part by anticipated impacts of new development. Nebraska overall has relatively low levels of net immigration. In some parts of the state net immigration is negative.
One lesson, or at least reasonable hypothesis, is that Trump’s rhetoric seems to have the most impact in places the least touched by actual immigration. Communities that have seen large influxes of immigration in recent years, even small towns, have responded in different ways. In Jefferson County, Iowa, for example, net immigration has grown 11.9 per 1,000 residents – also placing it in the top ten. Jefferson County responded to the increase by becoming a Sanctuary County. So, as much as it is tempting to read Trump’s immigration policy through the red-blue line, the social impact of immigration is far more nuanced. Communities where immigration is increasing are, by and large, more welcoming even in “red states.” Of course, there are exceptions. However, this does suggest that there is ample room for Democrats and others to craft a far more nuanced message regarding immigration, one that is positive and seeks a humane response.
Yesterday, Pope Francis released a motu proprio called “Vos estis lux mundi” [You are the light of the world”] offering new guidelines for leaders within the Catholic church on how to respond to clerical sexual abuse.
In Vatican parlance, a motu proprio is an official statement from the Pope that lays out a situation and on which he then makes a papal decree. The motu proprio is the most hierarchical of all documents, since it is issued only in the name of the Pope.
“Vos estis lux mundi” deals with crimes of sexual abuse and, for most of the brief document, there is little to surprise anyone who understands the monarchy that we call the Roman Catholic church. And problems within a hierarchy can only propose hierarchical solutions, unless they want to threaten the system. We should not therefore be surprised that Pope Francis proposes escalating problems to higher authorities within the church as a key part of the solution.
Some are celebrating the answer of bringing the concern higher up in the chain of command but there is reason for caution on this front. We all know that John Paul II had been informed about the case against Marcial Maciel, a serial sexual abuser, and that he continued to publicly praise him.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta responded to a question about the myopia of escalating the matter internally. As covered in the National Catholic Reporter:
Asked about why the apostolic letter does not mandate the involvement of lay experts in abuse investigations undertaken by metropolitan archbishops, Scicluna noted that metropolitans can ask lay people for help, but said: “We’re a Catholic Church, we’re not a congregational church.”
The message here seems to be that Catholic male clerics do not really need lay people to resolve problems, but they can call on them, on the rare occasions they deem it advisable. Asking why lay people are not involved is tantamount to saying that you do not understand how power is distributed in the Catholic church.
But what if a critical element of the cause of the abuse is somehow the hierarchical structure itself, which elevates some people to a god-like status that tells them they bear the indelible mark of Christ-like priestliness on their very souls?
The truly groundbreaking piece of the motu propio, I would argue, is the last provision:
Art. 19 – Compliance with state laws
These norms apply without prejudice to the rights and obligations established in each place by state laws, particularly those concerning any reporting obligations to the competent civil authorities.
Some commentators have already noted that reporting is not mandatory in all cases, but rather only in cases where the local government requires such reporting. But if it is the case that a local state does not require such reporting, that is a matter that can be addressed locally, offering at least a possible path toward greater accountability, which is why this article seems to break new ground.
Even as the rest of the motu proprio reinforces the sense that more patriarchy is the solution to the problem, the final article shows openness to a secular judicial process that does not elevate the accused to the inaccessible exalted heights of a clerical Olympus – a place beyond human accountability. No more, we can hope, will members of the clerical class, even bishops and Vatican officials working abroad, be permitted to hide behind clerical privilege that would forgive their sins while shielding them from being held accountable for their crimes in secular courts.
Francis knows this may not work, that he may not have gone far enough. The new norms take effect on June 1, 2019 and are enacted for an “ad experimentum” period of three years. Yet this experiment has, in sometimes awkward ways, already started and the initial results give some cause for optimism that secular authorities may be able to help survivors find justice they could not find within the church.
Playwright Catherine Filloux has written a play about child separation, which will be livestreamed on Monday night. Below it an intro to a story about the play from Woman Around Town. Click here for the full story, including an interview with Filloux about her work.
When, in June 2018, Judge Dana Sabraw of California put a legal chokehold on the Trump administration’s unconscionable child-separation policy, one could sense a collective sigh of relief emanating from our nation’s soul. No matter your stance on immigration, tearing thousands of petrified children from their parents’ arms was a moral violation Americans could not stomach.
But nearly a year after Judge Sabraw’s ruling, the trauma orchestrated by Trump and his band of child-catchers continues, and, although the widespread outrage may have subsided, the immorality of it all has only intensified.
Last month, in a court filing, the Justice Department admitted that the timeframe for reuniting these children with their families would be one year, two years or maybe longer. Because no records were kept, bureaucrats must sift through reams of data to connect dots that may or may not lead them to each child’s family’s whereabouts. This filing lays bare a cruel truth. While officials devised a plan to separate children from their parents, they gave no thought to reuniting them.
Even if these children are miraculously, at some point, able to rejoin their families, their trauma will be far from over. As child healthcare advocates have been warning since the very beginning of this crisis, when young children experience such extreme trauma, their brain development is compromised, often irreversibly so.
Playwright Catherine Filloux, a recipient of the 2017 Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre and 2015 Planet Activist Award, has made this grim truth the focus of her latest work. Set against the backdrop of this country’s escalating crackdown on immigrants, turning your body into a compass tells the story of two women, a human rights advocate and a neuroscientist, who join forces to expose the irreparable trauma inflicted on children separated from their families.
Conceived as a 360° web story, turning your body into a compass will be live-streamed on May 13th at 3 p.m. EST. For more information and to access the livestream go to the website.
National Bail Out prepared for another Mothers Day
The National Bail Out Collective was established in 2017 as an effort to raise bail funds so that black mothers could be reunited with their families. We have covered the bail industry here – and the sad fact that nearly a quarter of the number of people incarcerated in this country have not yet been to trial. They are in jail simply because they cannot afford bail. National Bail Out has freed over 300 women over the last 2 years.
Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and while many of us will be spending the day with our moms, not everyone is so fortunate — especially women who will spend the day in jail because they don’t have enough money to pay bail. This Mother’s Day, a second-year initiative is aiming to help as many Black families who have been directly affected by mass incarceration as they can. The National Black Mama’s Bail Out Day is raising money to help bail out incarcerated Black mothers, so they can be reunited with their children and families in the spirit of the upcoming holiday — and you can help them reach their goals.
The National Bail Out collective was established in May 2017 as a collaborative effort between many Black community organizers and organizations from across the states, including Southerners On New Ground (SONG), Black Lives Matter, The Dream Defenders, and more. According to their site, the goal of the National Bail Out is to “push against mass criminalization” by providing bail funds for Black community members who cannot afford to pay bail, and by providing additional financial support once they are released from jail.
For more information on National Bail Out check their website here.
On Wednesday last week, the Trump Administration sent a $4.5 billion request for a supplemental funding package that includes billions for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Despite being cloaked in the language of humanitarian aid, the funding sought for ICE and CBP would instead increase human suffering by ensuring more people are detained in inhumane conditions, blocked from accessing due process, and criminalized through politically motivated prosecutions.
Don’t be fooled—this isn’t really for humanitarian aid!
The Trump administration, under guidance from white nationalist Stephen Miller, demonstrates daily that its approach to migration is rooted in hate and cruelty.
The Trump administration is co-opting “humanitarian crisis” to pay for more human suffering. This is an attempt to fast-track even more funding to fuel Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda and to expand an already massive and inhumane immigrant detention system, all deceptively cloaked in the language of humanitarian response.
Today, May 9th, is the National Call-in Day to stop Trump’s harmful money grab! Join organizations across the country making calls to Congress to stop the supplemental funding request.
Call your member of Congress!
Dial 1-844-332-6361 and enter your zip code.
Once you’re connected, use this script: “Hello, my name is [first and last name]. I’m calling as part of the Defund Hate campaign. I’m calling to ask [Member of Congress] to publicly oppose Trump’s supplemental funding request. This request will only give billions to Trump’s agenda to maximize harm to those arriving at the border by building and expanding deadly immigration detention jails. More people behind bars is not a humanitarian response. [Member of Congress] should publicly speak out and urge leadership to reject the White House supplemental budget request. Thank you.”
ICE Blocking Legal Services in Texas Facility
RAICES has filed a formal complaint with the Trump administration over tactics employed at the Karnes Detention facility that is blocking immigrant access to free legal services:
An immigration legal group has filed a formal complaint against the Trump administration saying it is blocking detained immigrants from free legal services.
The complaint filed Wednesday by RAICES, a nonprofit immigrant legal services group, accuses Immigration and Customs Enforcement of creating barriers for people held at the Karnes, Texas, immigration detention facility to meet with legal teams.
The complaints are many and include such things as ICE failing to make space available for private meetings with clients, setting new requirements for lawyers to meet with clients, so that fewer people can meet with attorneys, and eliminating a “walk-in” signup list.
The Trump administration’s crackdown on immigrants and use of prolonged detention is leading more and more people to volunteer to leave the country – a choice available to some detainees who lack criminal convictions and a way to avoid having a deportation order on record.
The number of immigrants who have applied for voluntary departure has soared since the election of Donald Trump, according to new Justice Department data obtained by The Marshall Project. In fiscal year 2018, the number of applications doubled from the previous fiscal year—rising much faster than the 17 percent increase in overall immigration cases, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. The numbers show yet another way the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration is having an effect: More people are considering leaving the U.S., rather than being stuck in detention or taking on a lengthy legal battle with little hope of success. Last year, voluntary departure applications reached a seven-year high of 29,818….
….An application for voluntary departure has to be approved by an immigration judge. The number of requests granted increased 50 percent in fiscal year 2017, according to data from the Justice Department. Because not every case is resolved during the year it is filed, and judges can grant voluntary departure without a formal application, the annual total of voluntary departures has exceeded the number of applications.
Voluntary departure is obviously a bit of a misnomer – someone facing a prolonged detention and legal battle, is not really a “volunteer.”
People who are being held in detention often have no idea when they will get out, or under what circumstances. The process can be very isolating – indeed, it is supposed to be, in part to encourage folk to agree to voluntary departure. It can be a huge lifeline to someone incarcerated to have visitors – a reminder that they are not alone.
Visitation programs exist around the country. Not every facility has one – indeed, there have been increasing restrictions. But many do. Freedom for Immigrants coordinates much of this work. Check their page and the list of visitation programs below, and see if there is one near you!
In 1942, when the U.S. government began the process of forcibly removing Japanese and Japanese-Americans from their homes throughout the west coast and incarcerating them in concentration camps, the language employed by the government and the media covering government actions masked the true nature of what was happening. In an interesting blog post from last week, the editors at Densho argue that it is time to put those euphemisms to rest.
…Today, we can recognize the euphemistic language used by government officials and military leaders during WWII as deceptive — for one particularly egregious example, look to the Puyallup Assembly Center, or, as it was dubbed in 1942, “Camp Harmony.” But the textbooks and major news outlets where many Americans hear this story for the first time have yet to update their terminology accordingly, perpetuating that deception. Words matter—not just for the sake of accuracy, but for a future free from the kind of violations and violence that demand euphemisms in the first place. To avoid repeating the mistakes of our past, we must be able to see them clearly.
In March, California governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order establishing a moratorium on executions. The order impacts 737 people currently facing capital punishment in the state, nearly one out of four in the country. California joins an expanding list of states that are slowly moving away from the death penalty.
Shari Siberstein, the director of Equal Justice USA, writes that the end of the death penalty in this country would create the space, and save the resources, needed for a very different conversation about justice – one that centers treating trauma and the roots of violence. Her article in Truthout is must read for today:
We have an opportunity to reimagine the punishment paradigm altogether. As we dismantle capital punishment state by state, we free up crucial resources that can be invested in solving the root causes of trauma, violence and mass incarceration that devastate communities of color, deepen racial disparities and scar millions. I am talking about proven violence intervention programs that use public health strategies to interrupt violence before it happens; trauma-informed healing in communities harmed by violence; restorative justice programs that allow people to truly own and repair the harm they cause; and other community-based solutions that emphasize safety and healing over retribution and more pain. In those instances where safety necessitates some limited period of separation, that separation should not inflict more suffering. Rather, it should create the conditions necessary for people to take responsibility, change, and come out better off.
Republicans working on immigration plan….where are the Democrats?
The White House is meeting with GOP Senators this afternoon to talk over immigration policy. Trump’s son in-law, Jared Kushner, is also preparing a comprehensive immigration reform – it is not clear if this is Kushner’s plan, or not. On the table is “possibly” some relief for Dreamers (individuals brought into the country as children), a “merit based” visa system, and “strong measures” to lower “illegal” immigration. So, what we have, in keeping with the election season, are adjectives circling around some ideas we’ve mostly heard before, that may eventually make it to policy proposals that won’t pass a divided Congress.
It might all seem a waste of time, but this is election time!
Trump is preparing to go into the election with a plan – it will be a horrible plan – but a plan nonetheless. Where are the Democrats? If Democrats are paying attention, their heretofore reluctance to discuss substantive policy changes on immigration should be jettisoned. They are not going to be able sit out this discussion on immigration with nothing but jibes at Trump’s base this time.
Late last week we got the news that John Kelly, former Trump chief of staff, joined the board of “advisers” for Caliburn, a company that runs a massive shelter for unaccompanied minors in Homestead, Florida. The company just received a $341 million, no-bid contract from the U.S. government to expand operations at Homestead following the closing of the infamous tent city at Tornillo in southwest Texas. Kelly served as Secretary of Homeland Security in 2017 – during which time the child separation “policy” was crafted.
The parent company of Caliburn, remember the company running a detention facility for children, is a private equity firm called D.C. Capital Partners. D.C. Capital Partners’ board is a who’s who of famous individuals coming in and out its revolving door:
Richard L. Armitage, former U.S. deputy secretary of state; Michael Corbin; former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates; Michael V. Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and of the National Security Agency; Donald M. Kerr Jr., former deputy director of science and technology at the CIA; Anthony C. Zinni, former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command and former U.S. envoy to the Middle East; and Stephen F. Loftus, former director of the Office of the Budget for the United States Navy.
D.C. Capital Partners describes itself this way: “DC Capital Partners is a private equity investment firm that makes control equity investments in middle market companies that provide differentiated and innovative services and solutions in the Government Contracting and Engineering and Construction Services markets.”
The private equity firm purchased Comprehensive Health Services, which ran the facility, which it reorganized and renamed in the context of receiving the $341 million contract, which will bring total earnings up to $500 million when the contract runs out in November.
By the time the contract — the latest in a series of short-term deals — runs out in November, CHS will have earned more than half a billion dollars for housing migrant children…The dollar total could rise still higher since the payment escalates if the number of youths increases, as is expected.
$775 a day per kid. DHS could simply place the children temporarily at the InterContinental and save a lot of money.
Nah. But John Kelly may have some early work cut out for him. It seems that the Homestead facility is classified as a “temporary emergency” shelter, and thus not subject to the same licensing requirements as longer-term detention facility. In other words, they get to cut a lot of corners on health and safety because no one is watching. As it is on Federal land, and not licensed as other shelters, state oversight from child services is non-existent. This is an exception carved out for the only for-profit child detention facility currently operating (note: family detention is a for-profit operation as well. But, child detention facilities are generally run by non-profits under state license – some of these non-profit companies are real slimy too, of course).
A few members of Congress think this is a bad idea – and have submitted legislation to ban temporary shelters that bypass state licensing requirements. Judy Chu (D-CA) and others introduced H.R. 1069, the Shut Down Child Prison Camps Act.
The text reads:
In this Act, the term “temporary emergency shelter” means an unlicensed care provider facility that provides temporary emergency shelter and services for unaccompanied alien children when licensed facilities are near or at capacity.
The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall not maintain or operate (directly or through a contract) any temporary emergency shelter, including the temporary emergency shelter previously operational in Tornillo, Texas, and the temporary emergency shelter in Homestead, Florida.