A premature newborn baby girl and her 17-year-old migrant mother were almost entirely ignored and neglected for an entire week while held by Border Patrol near the Texas border.
Lawyers who visited the immigration processing station in McAllen, TX, told HuffPost that the one-month-old infant was wrapped in a dirty towel and wore soiled clothing. The mother was severely underslept, wheelchair-bound, and unable to walk or lie down due to pain from an emergency C-section.
The baby was born in Mexico after the mother left Guatemala for the U.S. while eight months pregnant. Neither mother nor child has been publicly identified.
According to immigration and human rights attorney Hope Frye, the mother was taken to a hospital at least once for pain medication, but the baby had not received any medical care since being placed in Border Patrol custody.
Frye described the baby as “listless” to HuffPost.
“I looked at that baby and said, ‘Who does this to babies?’” Frye said. “They were being sadistically ignored.”
Frye said a colleague told her on Wednesday that the baby appeared weak and had not cried for hours. There were also concerns about the infant’s body temperature dropping, which could lead to health complications and even death. Medical experts have said Border Patrol facilities are not safe for children and babies, especially those susceptible to disease or medical complications.
HuffPost confirmed that the family was to be transferred to a resettlement facility on Thursday, days after they initially came into Border Patrol custody.
Federal law dictates that unaccompanied children in government custody are required to be released from Border Patrol custody to the Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours. The 17-year-old mother and her baby are both considered minors.
Border Patrol facilities were designed to primarily hold single adult men and are not equipped to house families and children, per HuffPost. Government officials have repeatedly said they do not have the resources necessary to accommodate the influx of refugees heading to the border. Officials have even said the immigration system has reached its “breaking point,” according to The Washington Post.
Jess Morales Rocketto, chair of the Families Belong Together coalition, called for legislative action against the Trump administration’s anti-immigration agenda in the wake of this news.
“Time and time again, the Trump administration has shown that it doesn’t care about babies and children. We’ve already seen at least six migrant children die in this administration’s custody, and there are constant reports of babies still being kept in cages and dangerous health conditions for children and families in these de facto internment camps,” Rocketto said in a statement. “Republicans in Congress must answer for the public health and moral crisis that Trump is creating at the border.”