(Español) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has released fifteen infant detainees and their families held at a detention center in Texas. This comes amid outcry and formal complaints from both immigrant rights watchdogs and health expert groups. Over the last few years, ICE has begun detaining entire families seeking detention facilities once they cross the border and turn themselves in to authorities. This includes families with infant children as young as five months old.
Previous issues found from watchdog groups and official reports note instances of infants not receiving proper care. At the most basic, they reported infants who dramatically lost weight while in detention due to the dramatic change in nutrition and diet in the detention centers. There have been reports of infants receiving hepatitis vaccines meant for adults. In one extreme case, a 27-day old infant was not properly diagnosed with bleeding in his or her brain until it resulted in a seizure.
Despite the release of the fifteen infants and their families, experts still hold there is still very far to go in terms of properly caring for the not only infants held in the detention but also other children. First and foremost, the experts agree that infants and babies do not belong in detention centers. These facilities are not properly staffed or equipped to care for the number of infants and the specific care they need. The most pivotal time in an infant’s life is right after birth when they need almost around the clock care from medical professionals. The facilities are ill-equipped to handle the detainees they have. Calls from experts, watchdog groups, and even Senators call for the administration to end the detention of infants who come into the nation seeking asylum. Given the sensitive nature of the issue and the innocents affected, civil rights groups are continuing to monitor the situation.