- Migrant children held in a Dallas holding center are hungry and begging for food, The Daily Beast reported.
- Other reports say the children are also depressed and advocates worry about their mental health.
- “It’s disturbing,” one volunteer told The Daily Beast. “They are being treated like prisoners, and it’s insane.”
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There’s concern that children at one migrant shelter in Dallas, Texas, are being inadequately fed, according to The Daily Beast.
Five volunteers told The Daily Beast migrant children held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas often said they were hungry and begged for food.
“Numerous children have told me they are hungry and have begged me for additional food even after they have had a meal,” volunteer and special education teacher Kirsten Chilstrom told the outlet. “The food quality is subpar at best.”
Another volunteer, Sam Hodges, said there are problems with rationing the food at the convention center.
Multiple reports painted a concerning picture of conditions at the shelter, which is one of several temporary federal shelters opened to migrants amid a surge at the US-Mexico border. CBS News reported that March counted a record of nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children reaching US custody and 5,767 minors held in custody. Since then, the number has fallen about 88% to 677 unaccompanied children in custody as of May 2.
Earlier this year, the public got a first look inside the facility after a congressional representative leaked photos to the media. One facility showed adults and children sitting in what appeared to be makeshift rooms separating out groups of people.
Each room was cordoned off by what looks like a plastic enclosure, drawing comparisons to jail cells. Dozens of masked children can be seen lying down on gray mats. Some were crowded into corners, despite the threat of the coronavirus spreading. Others appeared to sit on the floor.
Such conditions have caused lawmakers and human-rights experts to sound the alarms and argue that migrant children should have better treatment upon crossing the border.
NBC affiliate KXAS-TV reported that there are concerns related to the mental health of the children in the facility.
“A lot of the kids are stressed out, high anxiety levels,” local LULAC president Rene Martinez told KXAS-TV of the conditions inside. LULAC is a civil-rights organization focusing on supporting Latin American citizens. “There’s been a few fights,” Martinez said.
Other advocates told the Dallas Morning News that kids are being held with limited access to sunlight and there are children with depression.
“It’s disturbing,” Chilstrom told the Daily Beast. “They are being treated like prisoners, and it’s insane.”
The Dallas shelter is managed by a military contractor called Culmen International, the Daily Beast reported. But Culmen does not usually have any input into children’s welfare, according to the Daily Beast.
Culmen International did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. Neither did the Department of Health and Human Services.
But in a statement to the Daily Beast, the agency emphasized that the Dallas shelter provides temporary housing for migrants and said children receive meals and participate in recreational activities, among other things.