Border Patrol chief resigns as migrant children are sent back to Texas camp

Christopher Wilson
Senior Writer

About 100 of the more than 300 migrant children who were moved Monday from a detention facility where conditions had been described as “unconscionable” were moved back to the camp on Tuesday. Around the same time, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders, whose agency runs the much-criticized operation housing migrant children who have been separated from their parents, announced his resignation.

On Monday, Rep. Veronica Escobar — who represents the El Paso, Texas, area — said that the government had moved most of the children from a facility in the small town of Clint, Texas, that housed migrants as young as a few months old. Over the last week, there have been reports from lawyers and physicians who visited the camps that many of the children were dirty, some of them ill, and that young children were being left in the care of detainees themselves, sometimes only 8 years old.

“The kids had colds and were sick and said they didn’t have access to soap to wash their hands. It was an alcohol-based cleanser. Some kids who were detained for two to three weeks had only one or two opportunities to shower,” Clara Long, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, has said of the Clint facility. Attempts by Clint locals to donate supplies to the facility were rejected, according to a Texas Tribune report.

Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

“Congress should urgently investigate and take action to stop these unconscionable abuses, such as requiring immigration agencies to release these children as soon as possible to their family members,” added Long.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that 100 of the children who had been temporarily relocated to an unspecified facility were moving back.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders did not specifically mention the deteriorating conditions at border camps in his resignation letter, writing that he encouraged “everyone to reflect on all that you have accomplished as a team. My hope is you build upon your accomplishments and embrace new opportunities, remain flexible, and continue to make CBP extraordinary.” He wrote that he would serve through July 5.

“I didn’t speak to him,” said President Trump of Sanders’s resignation. “I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him, actually. We have some very good people running it and I don’t know anything about it. I hear he’s a very good man, I hear he’s a good person. I don’t know him, I don’t think I ever spoke to him.”

Sanders has led the organization since April, when then-CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan was elevated to acting homeland security secretary, replacing the departing Kirstjen Nielsen.

People attempted to drop off diapers and toys for detained children at the immigration detention center in Clint, Texas. (Photo: Armando Martinez Photography)

Sanders acknowledged in an interview with the Associated Press earlier this month that children needed better medical care, and he urged Congress to pass an emergency funding package that would include $3 billion to care for unaccompanied children. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have blamed Congress for the conditions.

However, in a call Tuesday, a CBP official disputed the lawyers’ accounts and said the children housed there were given periodic access to showers and unlimited snacks.

“I personally don’t believe these allegations,” said the CBP official, who spoke on the condition he not be identified, according to the New York Times.

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