The treatment of children at the US border is more than a political crisis

Last week, US Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer became the latest Democrat to visit a migrant detention facility at the US-Mexico border. He described the conditions, particularly for children, as “inhumane” and “awful.”  In response, president Donald Trump tweeted a request to meet with Schumer to discuss what both sides of the political spectrum agree has evolved into a crisis.

Conditions at the US-Mexico border have become the latest proxy for a longstanding political fight in the US over immigration. But behind the fight over politics and policy, a developmental crisis is unfolding, one with longstanding consequences.

Schumer’s visit comes in the wake of a wave of on-the-ground reports showing that some migrant children have been held separately from their parents or guardians in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in CBP facilities along the US’s southern border. In one detention center in Clint, Texas, children reportedly couldn’t brush their teeth, take showers, or wash their clothes. Some very young children soiled themselves because they didn’t have diapers. They were fed poorly and irregularly and some had no beds to sleep on. When they got sick, they had difficulty accessing medical care.

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