Migrant Advocates Mark First Anniversary of March for the Children in El Paso: Close to 1,500 Children Still Detained in Controversial Emergency Intake Site at Fort Bliss

A Statement by Witness at the Border, addressed to the Biden Administration


April 30 is Children’s Day (Día del Niño) in Mexico. Last year, on April 30, 2021, we partnered with several local organizations to Walk for the Children / Caminata por la Niñez in El Paso, Texas. A total of 79 organizations and many individuals signed a statement demanding that the Biden Administration:


1. End Title 42 expulsions and admit migrant families on a priority basis.

2. Stop separating children from their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings.

3. Allow parents/other relatives in the U.S. to come to the border to pick up their children.

4. Release children QUICKLY to their family in the U.S.


“Activists carrying plush toys and signs saying ‘free them’ walked from the Paso Del Norte Bridge to Fort Bliss, a military base retrofitted to house unaccompanied minors arriving at the border of the United States and Mexico….The rally was held just after President Joe Biden’s 100th day in office.”

A Trump-Era Rule Is Still Turning Away Migrants at the Border. 

El Paso Activists are Marching to Demand Biden End It


In June 2021, when Vice-President Kamala Harris visited the border, the number of children detained at Fort Bliss had dropped to 800. Yet several whistleblowers came forward to expose appalling conditions: lack of medical care, clean sheets, even clean underwear. Spoiled food and extreme heat. The contractor hired to care for the children, Servpro, “specializes in cleanup after water, fire and storm disasters. It shows no record of having handled a contract related to child welfare.”


Early this month, on April 5, 2022, a letter was sent to Congress by the Government Accountability Project (GAP): Ongoing Whistleblower Concerns about Unaccompanied Immigrant Children at Emergency Intake Sites. “The disclosures reveal gross mismanagement, chaos and substandard conditions at the Fort Bliss Emergency Intake Site (EIS) in Texas and other EISs, managed by HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), that endangered the health and safety of the thousands of unaccompanied children (UC)….While it appears that there are currently fewer children held at the EISs, it is not clear whether HHS has made changes to remedy the serious issues our clients raised concerning children’s welfare.”


In fact, there are fewer children at Fort Bliss than one year ago (approximately 3,000 children last April has dropped to 1,484 as of this April 5). Two thousand beds are currently available at that site, which is now just one of two unlicensed emergency influx facilities for children (the other is in Pecos, TX). Reports are that children are being released quicker to their families and sponsors, but questions remain.

Has ORR fixed the horrific conditions reported by whistleblowers who volunteered to help care for immigrant children at the Fort Bliss EIS last year? We support GAP’s call on Congress to investigate.


Title 42, a Stephen Miller special, is finally slated to end on May 23 – if the bipartisan Lankford-Sinema bill doesn’t botch the CDC’s mandate. Title 42 has led to 1.8 million expulsions of people seeking protection in the US since its implementation in March 2020, under the guise of a COVID-19 public health necessity, disproved by public health experts. Human Rights First has documented over ten thousand instances of people being kidnapped, tortured, sexually assaulted, and murdered due to Title 42, including families with small children and vulnerable people fleeing violence and persecution. These are just the reported instances of violence; the number is undoubtedly higher.


On this year’s Children’s Day/Día del Niño, we once again ask that the Biden Administration:


1. End Title 42 expulsions and admit migrant families on a priority basis.

2. Stop separating children from their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings.

3. Allow parents/other relatives in the U.S. to come to the border to pick up their children.

4. Release children QUICKLY to their family in the U.S.


We also ask that unlicensed, mega-sites such as the Fort Bliss EIS not become the norm. While some progress has been made, we should never house children in unsafe, unsanitary settings. Nor warehouse them in 2,000-bed mega-sites. Children deserve homes, not detention. Only small, family-like care facilities should be used as ORR quickly and safely reunites these vulnerable children with their families and sponsors.


#HomesNotDetention #WelcomeWithDignity


Organizational Sign-Ons


Al Otro Lado

Albuquerque VIDA

Alianza for Progress

American Friends Service Committee, Colorado

Asociaciòn Americana de Juristas

Auburn Seminary

Austin Border Relief

Border Network for Human Rights

Borderland Rainbow Center

Brown Beret National Organization La Causa


Capaz Counseling

Caravan for the Children

Casa Mariposa Detention Visitation Program

Children’s Defense Fund -Texas

Circle of 100

Coalition to End Child Detention – El Paso

CodePink Women for Peace, San Francisco Bay Area

Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes

Courageous Resistance of the Desert – African Immigration Initiative and Friends of Immigration

DASAP – Deported Asylum Seekers Assistance Project

Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel

Doctors for Camp Closure

Doctors for Camp Closure: Oregon Chapter

Don’t Separate Families

Each Step Home

El Paso Young Democrats

Every Texan

Faith Commons

Faithful Friends/Amigos Fieles

Forum on Haitian Migration in the Americas

Friends of Immigration and African Immigration Committee

Fuerza Mundial Global

Georgetown Law Immigration Law Student Association (ILSA)

Grassroots Leadership

Guadalupe Presbyterian Church USA DETENTION MINISTRY

Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA

Hope Border Institute

Ice Out of Tarrant

Institute for the Geography of Peace (IGP/GeoPaz), Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico

Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración (IMUMI)

Int’l Tribunal of Conscience of Peoples in Movement

Iowans for Immigrant Freedom

Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice Western MA

La Raza Community Resource Center

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Mainers for Humane Immigration

Mississippi Center for Justice

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Lawyers Guild International Committee

National Lawyers Guild Mesoamerica Subcommittee

National Lawyers Guild Task Force on the Americas

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Nicaragua Center for Community Action

NorCal Resist

Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU)

Office of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Integrity/Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth

Opening Doors International Services Inc.

Orange County Equality Coalition

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Project Lifeline

Quixote Center


RITA-Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance

Refugee Support Network

Rio Grande Borderland Ministries

School Sisters of Notre Dame, Central Pacific Province

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team

Sisters of the Most Precious Blood

Srs. of Christian Charity

Student Clinic for Immigrant Justice

Tahirih Justice Center

Texas Civil Rights Project

Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice

Wellspring United Church of Christ

Woori Juntos

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