A pediatrician who visited a McAllen, Texas, Border Patrol warehouse recalled to The Atlantic seeing sick, traumatized children living in squalor and going without sufficient care. Dolly Lucio Sevier examined many of the over 1,000 migrant children in the facility, and said she observed unwashed children surrounded by unsanitary conditions—along with some symptoms of “psychological trauma.” Sevier said she saw a baby being fed from a dirty bottle for multiple days, and another child wrapped in incontinence pads and plastic as a replacement for their dirty clothing. Thirty-eight children told her they were not permitted to wash their hands or brush their teeth in the prolonged periods they were kept in detention. She also said about two-thirds of the children she saw had signs of respiratory infection, and others had symptoms of “sleep deprivation, dehydration, and malnutrition[.]” During examinations, Sevier recalled seeing children exhibiting fear but also being “perfectly submissive” to her. “I can only explain it by trauma, because that is such an unusual behavior,” she told the magazine.
A Customs and Border Protection official told The Atlantic the agency aims to “provide the best care possible to those in our custody,” but said their “short-term holding facilities were not designed to hold vulnerable populations[.]” The official also said the agency needed “additional humanitarian funding to manage this crisis.”