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Head of U.S. border protection resigns as 100 migrant children moved back to troubled facility

U.S. government officials say they've moved more than 100 children back to a remote border facility where lawyers reported detained children were caring for each other and had inadequate food, water and sanitation.

Lawyers reported inadequate food, water and sanitation at Texas facility

The entrance to the U.S. Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas. U.S. government officials say they've moved more than 100 children back to the facility. (Cedar Attanasio/Associated Press)

The acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner says he's stepping down amid outrage over detention conditions for children. 

John Sanders has led the agency that apprehends and first detains migrant parents and children crossing the Mexican border since a reshuffle of the immigration agencies by U.S. President Donald Trump. 

On Tuesday, U.S. government officials said they've moved more than 100 kids back to a remote border facility where lawyers reported detained children were caring for each other and had inadequate food, water, and sanitation.

Trump later told reporters that he is not happy with conditions on the border. But he said, the conditions are better now than under Barack Obama. "It's in much better shape than it ever was," he said from the Oval Office. 

Trump also said he has never met Sanders and did not ask him to resign. "I don't know anything about it, he said. "I hear he's a very good man ... I don't know him. I don't think I've ever spoken to him."

The Trump administration is dealing with unprecedented numbers of migrant families coming across the border, a surge that has left detention centres severely overcrowded and taxed the government's ability to provide medical care and other attention.

Late Tuesday night, the U.S. Congress passed a $4.5 billion US emergency border aid package to care for the migrant families and unaccompanied children being detained. 

Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner John Sanders, left, has announced he is resigning amid the outcry around the treatment of detained migrant children. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

An official from U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday that the "majority" of the roughly 300 children detained at Clint, Texas, last week have been placed in facilities operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, wouldn't say exactly how many children are currently detained there. But the official says Clint is better equipped than some of the Border Patrol's tents to hold children.

Attorneys who visited Clint last week said older children were trying to take care of toddlers.

They described a four-year-old with matted hair who had gone without a shower for days, and hungry, inconsolable children struggling to soothe one another.

Some had been locked for three weeks inside the facility, where 15 children were sick with the flu and another 10 were in medical quarantine.

Many children interviewed had arrived alone at the U.S.-Mexico border, but some had been separated from their parents or other adult caregivers including aunts and uncles, the attorneys said.

Clara Long, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, and other lawyers inspected the facilities because they are involved in the Flores settlement, a Clinton-era legal agreement that governs detention conditions for migrant children and families.

Lawmakers from both parties criticized the situation last week.

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