The makeup of that processing center is shocking when you see it, but let me go to the heart of the issue. The issue is this new policy of, when families are seeking asylum, their children are torn away from them and sent who knows where. The parents are beside themselves not knowing what happened to their kids, and they never know if they’ll see them again. The kids are going through the second version of trauma. Families seeking asylum have by definition experienced trauma abroad, and perhaps trauma en route. So finally they get to the border, and they think “finally, we’re safe.” But instead they’re put into this prison-like facility, and separated, and put through this new drama.
The argument is if we deter families from seeking asylum, then they won’t take on this arduous journey, so they won’t be exposed to smugglers. They’re inflicting trauma on children, to influence parents. Who does that? What civilized society does that? What faith tradition in the world would inflict trauma on children to influence their parents?------------------------------------------
I’ll tell you what was very difficult to see. One room had smaller cyclone fences—they look like the way you construct a dog kennel. They’re larger, but that’s the thought that comes to mind when you see them. Then they have these space blankets [light foil blankets], which is a very strange sight, to see kids using a space blanket as a cushion—but they don’t provide any cushion—or as a cover for privacy. There’re no mattresses in that section.
After they go through interviews, they go into a big warehouse. I called them cages, and the White House said that’s unfair, they aren’t cages. Well, call it a cell, then. It’s a cyclone-fence-constructed area. There were all these boys in this big enclosure, maybe three to four dozen boys, and they lined up, from smallest to largest, to get ready to go eat. The tiniest kid at the front of the line, he was knee-high to a grasshopper; he was 4, maybe 5 years old.
They go up to age 16 or 17.