12 Jul Trump labor secretary Alex Acosta resigns amid Epstein plea deal scandal – live | US news
Among those speaking before the House oversight committee now is Elora Mukherjee, professor of law and director of Columbia Law School’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, and Jennifer Nagda, policy director at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. Both women spoke to the Guardian last week about the conditions at detention center’s and what needed to be done to improve conditions.
Mukherjee is one of six attorneys who visited the Clint detention facility, where she encountered an overwhelming stench from children who hadn’t received a change of clothes.
“Children were hungry, children were traumatized and some wept in their interviews with me,” Mukherjee said.
She said one little girl she spoke to could only say “I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared” and couldn’t even say her own name.
“Not being able to do anything for her, broke my heart,” Mukherjee said.
She said colleagues found a newborn had been detained for a week and an eight-month-old had been detained for weeks.
The US government operates facilities meant to hold and care for migrant children on their own, run by the Health department, and also has the power to release families pending their court date.
Mukherjee, near tears, tells the story of a six-year-old boy she said she can’t forget. He was so inconsolable, he couldn’t speak, so she just held him. She says Border Patrol agents eventually gave him a lollipop to get him to leave the conference room he was being interviewed in and to go back to his cell.
Here was a boy the same age as my son, stuck in a hell hole.
Mukherjee says she doesn’t have the words to describe to her children, aged 3, 6 and 9, what she witnessed.
The Guardian spoke with Mukherjee for the Today in Focus podcast, which you can listen to here: