84°F
weather icon Clear

Border official resigns as outrage grows over migrant children

Updated June 25, 2019 - 12:44 pm

HOUSTON — The acting head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection resigned Tuesday amid an uproar over the discovery of migrant children being held in filthy conditions at one of the agency’s stations in Texas.

Commissioner John Sanders’ departure deepened the sense of crisis and added to the rapid turnover inside the agencies responsible for enforcing President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration priorities as the U.S. deals with record numbers of migrant families coming across the border.

In a message to employees, Sanders said he would step down on July 5. He did not give a reason for leaving.

“Although I will leave it to you to determine whether I was successful, I can unequivocally say that helping support the amazing men and women of CBP has been the most fulfilling and satisfying opportunity of my career,” he said.

In an interview last week, Sanders blamed the problems in detention on a lack of money. He called on Congress to pass a $4.5 billion emergency funding bill to address the crisis — legislation the House was planning to take up Tuesday.

At the White House Trump said he did not ask Sanders to resign, adding that he doesn’t think he has ever spoken to the man. The president defended U.S. border authorities, saying: “The laws are so bad and the asylum rules and laws are so bad that our Border Patrol people, who are so incredible, aren’t allowed to do their jobs.”

The unprecedented surge of migrant families has left U.S. immigration detention centers severely overcrowded and taxed the government’s ability to provide medical care and other attention.

The Trump administration has faced a barrage of criticism in recent days over conditions inside the Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, first reported by The Associated Press: inadequate food, lack of medical care, and older children trying to care for toddlers.

In one case reported in Clint, attorneys said a 2-year-old boy without a diaper was being watched by older children. Several youngsters had the flu. Many were separated from extended family members like aunts and uncles who brought them to the border; others were teenage mothers with babies.

An official from Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday that the majority of the roughly 300 children detained at Clint last week had been moved to facilities operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, wouldn’t say exactly how many.

But around the same time Sanders announced his resignation, his agency said officials had moved more than 100 children back to the station.

Previously CBP’s chief operating officer, Sanders was named acting commissioner in April after the agency’s previous leader, Kevin McAleenan, became acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Other key DHS agencies also have interim or acting directors, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

ICE on Saturday delayed a long-planned operation to sweep U.S. cities and arrest hundreds of people accused of flouting orders to leave the country, days after Trump’s tweets about the operation alarmed immigrant families and advocates. Former ICE acting director Thomas Homan, a Trump administration ally, then went on television to accuse McAleenan of leaking information about the operation because he opposed it.

CBP is the agency that apprehends and first detains migrant parents and children crossing the Mexican border.

CBP’s facilities at the Mexican border were almost all built when most people crossing the border illegally were single adults. Now, the agency is apprehending tens of thousands of parents and children weekly. It recorded 84,500 apprehensions of adults and children traveling together in May.

Six children have died since last year after being detained by border agents. At least two are believed to have died of complications of the flu, including a 16-year-old who was left to sleep on a concrete bench inside a Border Patrol station.

“The death of a child is always a terrible thing, but here is a situation where, because there is not enough funding … they can’t move the people out of our custody,” Sanders said.

In the wake of Sanders’ resignation, Democratic Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, lashed out at the administration’s immigration policies and “bad actors in the White House.”

“There is simply no excuse for the horrific conditions children and families are being held in at the border,” he said.

Jennifer Quigley, director of refugee advocacy for Human Rights First, called on Congress to provide money for caring for migrant children and to hold oversight hearings on the treatment of youngsters in detention.

“Trump administration officials need to be held accountable for the disgraceful response to the situation at the border,” she said in a statement. “This is only the tip of the iceberg. We need a full accounting of how children came to be caged in filthy and unsafe conditions.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
THE LATEST
Joe Biden leads fundraising in Nevada

Joe Biden, the former vice president, outpaced all his Democratic rivals for the 2020 presidential nomination in Nevada fundraising in the second quarter of 2019.