TORNILLO, Texas (AP) — The Latest on a desert detention camp for migrant children (all times local):
A new government watchdog memo says the Trump administration waived rigorous background checks for all staff working at the nation’s largest detention camp for migrant children .
The memo, obtained exclusively by The Associated Press, says the former director of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement personally signed off on sidestepping requirements for child abuse and neglect checks at the tent city in Tornillo, Texas.
None of the 2,100 staff has gone through FBI fingerprint checks either, but the Tornillo contractor says staff are vetted in other ways.
Tornillo now holds 2,324 migrant teens, and has expanded recently.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General memo confirms AP’s reporting that teens held at Tornillo are receiving inadequate mental health care.
A department spokesman did not immediately provide comment Tuesday.
The Trump administration announced in June that it would open a temporary shelter for up to 360 migrant children in an isolated corner of the Texas desert. The facility has since expanded into a detention camp holding thousands of teenagers — and it shows every sign of becoming more permanent.
By Monday, 2,349 largely Central American boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 17 were sleeping inside the highly guarded facility in canvas tents.
An Associated Press investigation has found that federal plans to close Tornillo by New Years’ Eve may be nearly impossible to meet. A contract obtained by AP shows the project could continue into 2020 and planned closures have already been extended three times since this summer.