The Trump administration has allowed a paediatrician to conduct an independent investigation into health conditions for migrant children at US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities.Citing a statement issued by the Stanford University, CNN reported on Friday that Dr Paul Wise, a professor of paediatrics and health at the varsity, had toured detention centres at the border last summer and was critical of the conditions there.
Under the agreement, arranged as part of a lawsuit against the government in federal court, Wise will be able to conduct an inspection of CBP facilities and assess children in the agency’s care.US District Judge Dolly Gee authorised Wise’s appointment on Monday, according to court documents.
Wise described how children were kept in a “kind of cage-like” processing centre after touring border detention centres last year. He told a university publication that health providers’ “very short-term contributions are no substitute for a high-quality clinical infrastructure.”
“The frontline health providers who work in the border area clinics are often overwhelmed by the challenge,” Wise told the publication. “In some measure, they have to rely on volunteers coming from around the United States.”
“One major concern was that the infrastructure of health care for children and their families coming through the asylum process is woefully inadequate,” he added.The independent investigation comes as the Trump administration faces criticisms for its hard-line immigration policies, as well as reports of unsanitary conditions and a lack of resources at certain migrant detention facilities.
Advocates have applauded the appointment of an independent investigation into what has been called deplorable and dangerous conditions for children in detention.
“I think it’s a huge step forward,” said Jennifer Podkul, senior director of policy and advocacy at Kids in Need of Defense, which is not part of the lawsuit.
“Third-party oversight is crucial to ensuring that the government is living up to the minimum standards it agreed to when holding children. The fact that he’s a medical professional who has expertise and knows what to look for is crucial,” Podkul added.Since September, four children have died in, or just after being released from, CBP custody.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General had released a report last week reporting on “dangerous overcrowding” and “prolonged detention of children and adults” at border facilities in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
The US Congress passed a USD 4.6 billion emergency border funding bill last month that aims to provide humanitarian aid and address the influx of migrants.