We’ve all heard about the Border Patrol facility out in Clint. We’ve heard the stories of how the children are living in deplorable conditions: don’t have toothpaste or food, cell blocks are overcrowded, and more.
It’s hard to miss as it’s been all over the news the last few days. Because of that coverage and what is being presented to the community, the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) mounted a caravan and protest this morning.
“After the widespread problems reported last week with the Administration’s illegal detention of children at the Clint Border Patrol Station nothing has changed,” reads the notice the BNHR sent out. “Children continue to be denied basic human rights as they continue to die.”
As I waited for the caravan to arrive, I could not help looking at the building before me and wonder just what is happening inside those foreboding walls. I wondered what those children must be thinking.
Are they worried they will never be released? Do they cry as they fall asleep wondering where their families are and if they are still alive? Would the protest bring about answers?
“There’s a lot of things that I don’t think everybody’s getting the full picture on either right now. This facility that we’re at today, there’s some protesters coming to protest the keeping of children,” says Samuel Williams, Congressional Candidate for the 16th District.
“Nobody’s offering a solution on what to do with these kids. Where are we going to put them? We can’t put them on the street. Nobody wants to answer that question. They all want to complain about it, but nobody wants to offer up a solution. And right now, I don’t think there’s a solution that’s viable to get all these kids out of these facilities that quick.”
I began to think about that, as well. What do we do with these children that are housed in the Clint facility? They are, for the most part, unaccompanied minors. How do we find their families and get them home?
“We need to be doing the DNA test immediately and putting those kids back with their parents. I mean, it’s a simple process. Ninety minutes, you can do five DNA tests. The systems are there. We just need to invest in that system,” says Williams as a solution for reuniting families.
I spoke with others at the protest, asking why they were there and why it’s important for others to know about this facility and what is going on with the children.
“We need to know that there are kids out here that are suffering for no fault of their own,” says Yvonne. “It’s because of our policies and our rules about them coming over to gain citizenship that they’re being detained. So, if because of our rules, we’re detaining them, then we should be responsible for taking care of them.”
Our media partners at the Texas Tribune did a piece on how the United States Government was fighting to bar children in these facilities from having the necessities like soap, a blanket, a toothbrush.
To that end, the Trump administration is protesting the Flores Settlement Agreement in that it didn’t say anything about providing a toothbrush, towels, dry clothing, soap or even sleep to those detained in BP or ICE facilities.
Ben Bergquam, of Frontline America and America’s Voice News (As well as the Wall-A-Thon, raising monies to build the border wall) was also present at today’s protest.
On Wednesday, June 26th, Ben was one of several journalists invited to walk through the Border Patrol Facility in Clint.
“What is being said by the media is an outright lie. The children here, the Border Patrol is doing everything they can with the resources that they have,” says Mr. Bergquam. “What I saw were smiling children in an unfortunate situation, put there by their parents.”
“I saw Border Patrol agents, Chief Hall, who is visibly overwhelmed. He’s doing everything he can with the resources that he has, but he’s being attacked on justifiably from many fronts,” says Bergquam. “We went into the facility; we saw the children. We saw there are 117 children in there. The capacity is 106. They have had up to 700 children at one point at their peak.”
Bergquam said that during the tour that he saw boxes of toothbrushes, but some of the children have chosen not to use them. He also said he was able to see washers and driers, clean clothing, children playing soccer.
That brings me to my takeaway from today’s protest, a lesson I learned firsthand that has me disheartened.
There were two groups of people: the first, and larger group, protesting the lack of water, diapers, food and more. They feel that more should be done for these children under the care of Border Patrol.
They were united in that common goal.
The second, smaller group, wanted people to know, after having visited the facility, that things were not as bad as the media makes it out to be. Just like the first group, this second group felt they had the right to be heard as well.
Yes, there was shouting, yelling, and some name-calling. Tempers would quickly flare up and die out just as quickly.
In the end, after all, was said and done, at least one person from each side, Ben Bergquam and one lady from the BNHR protest, took a photo together after a very civil discourse on what they believed and why.
I’m not happy that we think only one opinion matters and that’s our opinion to the exclusion of all else. It saddens me. It hurts me. My hope going forward from here is that everyone who was involved in this protest will reflect on their actions and realize there are two sides to every coin. Two voices need to be heard, and maybe we can mature a little bit, grow up and come to the table and find a bipartisan solution to this problem and stop blaming everybody else out there.
It’s our problem. It’s your problem. It’s mine. It’s everyone’s, let’s solve it in a way that doesn’t cause more division.
One sign I saw at the protest said that we do not need to build a wall, only bigger tables. I agree. One of the greatest ways to solve problems is having a meal with those who oppose you, don’t agree with you. I promise you if we are civil, if we can sit down together, we can solve this problem. It is our problem whether we like it or not.
I do hope you will take the time to listen to the audio. I spoke with individuals on both sides of this issue in hopes of presenting both sides so we may begin a discussion.