Press Release



Abuses at Fort Bliss Confirm Children Seeking Asylum Don’t Belong in Detention

Washington – Today, the #WelcomeWithDignity responded to the Government Accountability Project’s press release on whistleblower allegations of abuse at Fort Bliss. Eyewitnesses described a fire and water damage repair company with no experience of youth care being charged with the direct supervision of children, failures in case management and oversight, and thousands of children housed in dormitory tents. #WelcomeWithDignity campaign members–many of whom visited the center in question–responded:


“Women’s Refugee Commission is very concerned about the serious allegations in the whistleblower​s’ complaints, as reported by the Government Accountability Project and NBC, and urges Congress to investigate these complaints thoroughly and immediately,” said Leah Chavla, senior policy advisor at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Unfortunately, allegations of poor treatment, unhygienic and overcrowded living conditions, inadequate medical attention, prolonged stays of children, and inexperienced staff at these emergency facilities and particularly at the Ft. Bliss site are consistent ​with what WRC and partner organizations have independently heard and advocated against. WRC ​renews its call to HHS and the ​Biden administration to ​immediately close the emergency intake site at Ft. Bliss, to ensure that children are never held in these types of inappropriate conditions, and to focus efforts on much-needed reforms and improvements to the model of care for unaccompanied children.” 


“This terrible situation at Ft. Bliss should never have happened,” said Denise Bell, researcher for Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International USA. “The administration has every opportunity to ensure it is not repeated by moving to close these emergency facilities as quickly as possible and immediately implementing long-overdue reforms so that such emergency facilities are never needed. This was preventable, and the U.S. must act urgently to uphold the best interests of children. That starts with ensuring children are safely with their families and approved sponsors must faster, and re-orienting the model of care altogether so that children are living with family and caretakers rather than in government custody at all.”


The allegations in the whistleblowers’ complaints are shocking, but not surprising, said Naomi Steinberg, Vice President, Policy & Advocacy at HIAS.  “Now is the time for the Biden administration to make the necessary reforms to ensure that no child is ever forced to stay in dangerous conditions like those in Ft. Bliss again. Unaccompanied children should be reunited with their loved ones as quickly as possible, not warehoused in tents in the desert.” 


“This important report and related testimonies and media coverage sadly confirm the concerns we’ve long had about the unjust detention of migrant youths in unsafe, abusive settings like Ft. Bliss since the inception of the Biden administration, and previously at sites like Homestead and Tornillo. Enough/Ya Basta! The Ft. Bliss detention facility and other similar settings must be shut down immediately. Youth who have been subjected to abusive conditions like these are entitled to full compensation and reparations for these injustices. All officials responsible for these abuses must be held accountable as well.” Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, Witness at the Border 


“While the Biden administration must thoroughly investigate these troubling complaints regarding the poor treatment of children at Fort Bliss, it must also urgently move the children to more adequate facilities where they can be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” said Santiago Mueckay, Manager of Federal Government Relations at Save the Children Action Network. “Many of these children have already suffered unimaginable traumas back home and on their way to the U.S. So, to hear these reports detailing how contractors hired by the U.S. government are causing even further trauma is deeply distressing. That’s why Save the Children Action Network, together with our 375,000 grassroots advocates nationwide, will continue to advocate against the use of large influx facilities, and urge the Biden administration to expedite the reunification of these children with their families.”


“We are calling on President Biden and Secretary Becerra to put an end to this cruelty,” said Paola Luisi, Director of Families Belong Together. “These heartbreaking reports from whistleblowers show that the ongoing abuse and neglect towards children did not end with Trump’s removal from office. Our priority as a nation must be to ensure that children are in safe and healthy environments, as they seek protection and wait for their cases to be processed and reunited with their loved ones. At stake is how we as a nation treat children after years of Trump’s cruelty.”


“We must agree as a nation that the mass incarceration of children is immoral and should never be considered a viable option. The allegations in the Government Accountability Project’s report highlight the egregious abuse and trauma inflicted upon the children held at Fort Bliss,” said David Inoue, Executive Director for the Japanese American Citizens League. “The Biden administration must immediately make the humane treatment of immigrant children a priority.”


“The evidence is overwhelming. Good people are risking everything to get the horrible truth of Fort Bliss out to the public. Close the child prison at Fort Bliss. It is no place for children.”–Joshua Rubin, Founder, Witness at the Border


The Government Accountability Project’s press release can be found here.


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The #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign is composed of more than 80 organizations committed to transforming the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee their homes to ensure they are treated humanely and fairly. To learn more and join our campaign visit: