The Biden administration finally allowed reporters into a Customs and Border Protection facility in Donna, Texas, on Tuesday where more than 4,000 individuals are crowded into a space that’s only intended for 250 people. Most there are children, and in a video Reuters posted on Twitter, Oscar Escamilla, the acting executive officer for Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley operations, shared some of the heartbreaking stories he’s hearing from them.
He said about six weeks ago he spoke to “one of the little girls” in the facility who he said they were ready to send to the hospital. He said he noticed she couldn’t speak, so he asked the medical team there what had happened. They explained the reason she was going to the hospital is because she had gotten gang raped along the way to the border.
“The reason she couldn’t speak was because she had lost her voice in the process of while she was getting raped. Those things hit hard. These kids cross by themselves. Obviously, the parent pays a fee to the smuggler, the cartel member or the smuggler at this point will bring the kid over …,” he told Reuters.
The kids, he explained, will tell him their stories—that they lost their parents, or that they’re supposed to find their sponsor in the U.S., but when asked which state the family member is in, they have no idea.
“I asked her what state are you going to? What’s your final destination? And she said, ‘I don’t know. All I know is that it snows there, that’s all I know.’”
WARNING: GRAPHIC SUBJECT MATTER— Reuters (@Reuters) March 31, 2021
Harrowing stories of sexual abuse are among some of what Oscar Escamilla, a U.S. Border Patrol official, says ‘hit hard’ as he details what some of the unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border have told him https://t.co/aLb7eV7Crz pic.twitter.com/QZg0Eo27Zw
On social media, people blamed the Biden administration for propping up this type of abuse through their lax border policies.
Horrible.— Erielle Davidson (@politicalelle) March 31, 2021
We’ve fostered a human trafficking industry at the border that targets children. By not tightening the border, we prop up human traffickers. We make their “transactions” possible. Shame on the Biden Administration. https://t.co/BWVPNLeCzE
In a separate story with NBC, Escamilla said a CDC authorization is helping them turn back many migrants to help curb the spread of COVID-19, but if that policy is revoked soon, other facilities will start looking like Donna's.
"If on April 21 they do not renew Title 42, you can expect every single facility on the southwest border will be just like this," Escamilla said.