Acting Border Protection Chief Will Step Down as Migrant Children Are Returned to Texas Facility

Acting Border Protection Chief Will Step Down as Migrant Children Are Returned to Texas Facility

The Customs and Border Protection agency’s acting commissioner, John Sanders, will step down in early July as the government’s primary border enforcement executive, a federal official said Tuesday, a development that comes as the agency faces continuing public fury over the treatment of detained migrant children.

[An exclusive from “The Weekly,” a new TV series from The Times, on FX and Hulu: Watch Caitlin Dickerson’s episode on Baby Constantin.]

The news of the resignation came shortly after agency officials disclosed that more than 100 children had been returned to a troubled Border Patrol station in Clint, Tex., a location where a group of lawyers who visited recently said hundreds of minor detainees had been housed for weeks without access to showers, clean clothing, or sufficient food.

Mr. Sanders announced his resignation in an email to colleagues shortly after it was reported by journalists. He led the agency since President Trump tapped the former Customs and Border Protection commissioner, Kevin McAleenan, to replace Kirstjen Nielsen as homeland security secretary. Mr. Sanders specialized in developing technology for national security initiatives and previously served as the chief technology officer for the Transportation Security Administration.

The official who confirmed his resignation, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, said it was not clear whether the impending resignation was connected to recent criticism over the agency’s management of a large influx of migrant families along the border.

In a call with reporters on Tuesday, a Customs and Border Protection official disputed the lawyers’ accounts of conditions for hundreds of migrant children at the facility in Clint, saying that detainees who are housed by the agency are given periodic access to showers, and are offered unlimited snacks throughout the day.

That assertion ran contrary to what the lawyers, from some of the nation’s top law schools, said they were told by children. During a court-ordered visit to the facility earlier this month, some children said they had not been allowed to shower in nearly a month, and were so hungry that it had been hard for them to sleep through the night.

[Read about the conditions migrant children were held in at Clint]

“I personally don’t believe these allegations,” the Customs and Border Protection official, who spoke on the condition he not be identified, told reporters.

The lawyers’ accounts prompted a significant public backlash, after which all but 30 of the roughly 300 children who were being housed in Clint were transferred elsewhere. Some 249 were placed in a shelter network for children run by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, while others were moved to a tent facility in El Paso run by Customs and Border Protection.

But on Tuesday, the C.B.P. official said that those moves had alleviated overcrowding in Clint, and allowed for the return of more than 100 children there. The spokesman said that no additional resources had been provided to the children who were sent back.

After the lawyers’ accounts about Clint were made public, volunteers from around the country began to mobilize, hoping to deliver supplies such as diapers, soap and food to the facility. But those who arrived there were not allowed in and their donations were not accepted, according to local media reports.

On the call with reporters on Tuesday, the Customs and Border Protection official said that the agency was reviewing its policy for accepting outside donations, but the official also disputed the idea that supplies were running low.

“We are looking at the possibility of using some of those donations going forward but those items, it’s important to note, are available now,” the official said.

Federal officials had previously told the office of Representative Terry Canales, a Democrat from Texas who requested a list of needed supplies, that the agency would not be able to accept outside donations, according to Curtis Smith, Mr. Canalas’s chief of staff.

Source link