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Along the southwest border, the first stop for many migrants who are detained after crossing without documents is a front-line Border Patrol station.  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
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Dear Friends,

Along the southwest border, the first stop for many migrants who are detained after crossing without documents is a front-line Border Patrol station. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said those notoriously harsh facilities are “no place for a child."

Yet one in three people who have been held by the Border Patrol since early 2017 is a minor, according to data obtained by The Marshall Project through freedom of information requests — a much higher share than has been previously reported. Out of almost 2 million people detained, at least 650,000 were children or teenagers, we discovered.

Yet immigration officials, under President Trump and still under President Biden, have resisted making changes to improve conditions for kids, even though many of the border facilities were built years ago like crude police lock-ups, designed for adults.

In thousands of interviews with legal services providers, children reported being yelled at, cursed, kicked and shoved by Border Patrol agents. Many young people said the food was frozen or stale and made them sick. More than 220,000 of the minors, about one-third, were held for longer than 72 hours, the legal limit for border detention of children, our reporting showed.

A teenager from Guatemala we interviewed said she was held for 18 days in a teeming facility in south Texas. When she tried to obtain treatment for a fractured shoulder, she said the staff dismissed her account of the injury. When she finally received a prescription for pain, she said it was never filled.

Yet there are signs that change may be coming. This year Congress has allocated funds to hire a number of childcare professionals, and authorized unannounced inspections of Border Patrol facilities. As the Border Patrol prepares for a new influx of migrants after the lifting of a Title 42 pandemic order, we hope our story will show the urgent need for broader reforms to recognize the reality that Border Patrol stations are places where children are detained every day.

Want to learn more? Join us Wednesday on Twitter Spaces as we discuss our reporting with publishing partner Politico Magazine. (You can tune into the live audio event without a Twitter account, too.)

Thanks for reading,

Anna Flagg

Anna Flagg
Senior Data Reporter
The Marshall Project

Julia Preston

Julia Preston
Contributing Writer
The Marshall Project

P.S. If you'd like to help make more investigations like this possible, please consider donating to The Marshall Project today. All new gifts are currently being matched, up to $50,000, by our generous board member Jim Leitner.

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