The Trump administration has been holding migrant children -whether they came to the U.S. alone or were forcibly separated from their guardians – in a network of makeshift tent camps. An unnamed official at the Department of Health and Human Services told NBCNews that housing costs $775 per child per day. That’s more than a $675 deluxe guest room at the Trump international hotel in Washington, D.C. (the average U.S. hotel room costs $229.00).
Maintenance reportedly eats up most of the $775 daily cost per child for the tent camps, since it’s difficult to keep temporary structures suitable for humans in a desert. In permanent facilities run by Health and Human Services, the cost is $256 per person per night, and NBC News estimates that even keeping children with their parents and guardians in Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities would only cost $298 per night.
Even at the permanent facilities, the conditions are bad, with a lack of soap and blankets. Clinical-law professor Warren Binford interviewed child detainees at a facility in Clint, Texas, and told Isaac Chotiner at The New Yorker “There was food on their shirts, and pants as well. They told us that they were hungry. They told us that some of them had not showered or had not showered until the day or two days before we arrived. Many of them said they had only brushed their teeth once, that there was a lice infestation, as well as an influenza outbreak, at that facility, and that a number of the children are being taken into isolation rooms, quarantine areas where there’s nobody with them except for other sick children.”
Like the prison industry for the U.S. criminal justice system, private companies can make a lot of money in the immigrant-detention business. Private-prison firm Geo Group has reportedly already made $500 million from migrant detention centers since Trump’s “zero tolerance policy” began (reported by the Miami New Times). Southwest Key Programs, a nonprofit that set up a boys’ shelter, reportedly netted $955 million in federal contracts between 2015 and 2018, according to The New York Times. A network of nonprofit groups, BCFS, reportedly received $179 million in the same time period. BCFS is the same contractor that held migrant kids in parked vans for 39 hours earlier this year, as ICE slowly did the paperwork to reunite the children with their families.
The Texas Tribune reports that Texans have been collecting donations of diapers, soap, and toothbrushes. So far, Customs and Border Protection has refused to accept the donations. (reported in The Ballot, Conde Nast, 26 June 2029).
My comment: its hard to know how to express one’s disgust. This is the United States they are talking about? We as taxpayers are being made to pay for this Trump policy of “everything has to turn a profit for the election donors”? How can you support treating little children like this?
But there is another point, seldom discussed: why are the migrants coming in such numbers in the first place? Have you noticed that the reason for the huge numbers of migrants is described as “fear of the violence”, and little more is said.
As I understand it, this violence in Central America is driven by drug gangs fighting for market share, mostly in the United States. So, if I am right, the poor people of Central America are suffering for the drug habits of rich Americans, while the average US taxpayer, who doesn’t touch a “recreational” drug, is joining the poor migrants in paying for the self-indulgence of the few, mostly untouchably rich, and having to watch while our government botches the migrant crisis, at huge cost. This, apparently is making America great again. Worse, there is no sense of shame – the base loves it. Epicurus, on the other hand, would have condemned everything about it.