STATEMENT: LIRS Reacts to Reports of Alarming Conditions for Migrant Children at Fort Bliss | LIRS

STATEMENT: LIRS Reacts to Reports of Alarming Conditions for Migrant Children at Fort Bliss

Published On: Donate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 7, 2021

Contact: Kimberly Uslin | kuslin@lirs.org | 717-479-2932

Washington D.C. – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is deeply concerned by today’s reports of abuse occurring at intake centers for migrant children from government whistleblowers.

The Government Accountability Project released alarming disclosures of abuses occurring at a Ft. Bliss Emergency Intake Shelter for unaccompanied children, including “undue reliance on [an] unskilled private contractor,” overcrowded conditions, insufficient and negligent oversight, and case management failures.

The Department of Health and Human Services has been operating several large-scale emergency intake sites since the influx of unaccompanied children began this spring. Ft. Bliss is the largest of the facilities, with the capacity to hold approximately 5,500 children. The facilities are not subject to state licensing requirements and, despite escalating concerns by advocates, standards of care have not been released.

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, offered the following statement on the reports: 

“The reports coming out of Fort Bliss are deeply troubling and simply unacceptable. As the leader of an organization that cares for unaccompanied children and emphasizes trauma-informed care, I am horrified that a contractor without childcare experience is overseeing the well-being of thousands of children.

As a mother, I cannot get the image out of my head of that young girl who was waiting for the bus ready to go home, only to find out it was a cruel mistake and she would remain in federal custody.

The Biden Administration must act now to move children from these horrific conditions into small, safe, family-centric homes like those in the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service network. Fort Bliss and other temporary influx facilities must be shut down as soon as possible. Let us pray that these children are able to heal from their past trauma and see a brighter future.”

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Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is one of the largest immigration and refugee resettlement agencies in the United States. LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership working with and advocating for refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through 80 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.

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