Question: Are border detention facilities refusing donations from public?

Are detention facilities allowed to accept donations of baby products and personal hygiene products from the general public? Apparently, not, according to one Texas state representative. Rep. Terry Canales of Edinburg requested a list from the Border Patrol of items acceptable as donations but was told by email that donations are not accepted.


The Democrat was not given a reason for a policy that declines donations though he says a line of communication was opened with the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector chief Monday. He is hopeful that they can work together.


The whole situation is disgusting, but I’m always hopeful that the better part of us as human beings will shine through,” said Canales, whose district neighbors the McAllen facility. “Those children feel like the world has given up on them, and we have to fight for them.”

Canales said he had a conference call Monday morning with Rodolfo Karisch, U.S. Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector chief, and had a “short but productive conversation” about the living conditions for kids being held in processing facilities.

“These kids are being underserved, and they’re not getting what they need,” Canales said. “We discussed diapers, hygiene products, and I pressed upon him that from a PR perspective that it looks terrible we’re not meeting their needs and they’re not accepting donations from the public.

“He, to some extent, agreed with me and said he would get back with me and see how we can collaborate,” he said. “So the lines of communication are open.


There is a story reported of a private donation from six people being declined at the Clint (Texas) detention facility Sunday. The group’s spokesman said that they loaded up an SUV with $340 worth of goods from a San Antonio Target store for the facility after reading about the need for them. The group attempted to deliver diapers, wipes, soaps, and toys but were unable to do so. They said the building’s lobby was closed. They do, however, admit that 8 to 10 Border Patrol agents were seen moving around in the parking lot. Allegedly the agents ignored the group.


This story, though a compelling one, is sending up some red flags. These folks probably had good intentions but I have to question their motive, given the story. Was it just a stunt for attention? I am not surprised that the front lobby of the building was closed. That is standard procedure for any facility housing children. It is for the protection and safety of the children. A visit to any women’s shelter will produce the same experience. Random strangers are not allowed to enter. Normally in this kind of exchange, a donor would call ahead and arrange for a donation to be accepted. At least that is standard procedure for women’s shelters. I don’t have experience with detention centers for illegal aliens but I would assume the same holds true for them. And, since the policy is that donations are not accepted, the group could have been spared the trip.

The spokesman for the group of six donors even admits that he was told they probably would be turned away. He all but admits it’s a stunt. At the very least, he admits it’s a feel-good action, not necessarily a productive one.

“A good friend of mine is an immigration attorney, and he warned us that we were going to get rejected,” Savage said. “We were aware of that, but it’s just the idea of doing something as opposed to passively allowing this to occur.”

Now that Democrats have been forced to admit there is a humanitarian crisis on the southern border, the political dynamics have shifted from placing all the blame on President Trump and the administration’s immigration policies to pressuring Congress to act. The fact remains that the Border Patrol agents are overwhelmed and unable to keep pace with the massive amount of people trying to illegally enter America.


The group of donors plans to go back to the facility in Clint and try again. He knows the result will be the same. He isn’t alone in hoping to donate to the detainees. Others have been met with the same rejection. The policy is consistently enforced.

A slew of other sympathetic people, advocacy groups and lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have expressed a desire to lend a hand to the kids housed in the facilities. But after purchasing items like toys, soap, toothbrushes, diapers and medicine — especially as news reports circulate of facilities having drinking water that tastes like bleach and sick children without enough clothing — they’ve been met with a common message: No donations are being accepted.

“It makes me feel powerless knowing there’s children taking care of toddlers and little kids,” said Gabriel Acuña, who grew up in Clint and attempted to visit the facility in his hometown Sunday morning. “Knowing what’s happening in your community and that you can’t give these kids supplies to clean or clothe themselves — it’s heartbreaking.

“For God’s sake, they’re kids, man.”

I get it. We are a nation of generous, compassionate people, especially when a crisis situation involves children. This is not a crisis of nature, like a weather event, or other emergencies that are unpreventable. The humanitarian crisis at the border is one of their own makings. I know that sounds harsh but the truth is, if parents and other adults were not illegally entering the country and bringing innocent children with no say in the decisions made by adults along with them, we would not be confronted with this mess.


One way to help, though, is to donate to charities that are helping when detainees are released. Charities are doing the work of superheroes, as they always do. Donations are always gratefully welcomed and they are in real need now to keep humanitarian projects operating. The federal government may not be set up to take private donations but lots of other places can take them and use them immediately.

In the case of the Clint, Texas facility in the story, the question of private donations may be moot soon anyway. More than 300 children are being moved to other centers in order for them to be properly cared for. It’s a start.

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