CBP processing centers are no place for a child, and certainly not one with flu. At the CBP facility called Ursula our delegation visited in June, you were immediately confronted by overwhelming sensory responses upon arrival. The smell of urine, feces and sweat. The sight of what looked like a sea of silver, which was really just mylar blankets completely covering the concrete floors. You could hardly tell that children were underneath them. The only sound was crinkling mylar as they moved – no talking, no laughter. There were so many children with bloodshot, bulging eyes, expressionless and exhausted. There were no private exam rooms or appropriate spaces for ill children to rest and receive care.
As horrifying as these conditions are, what’s now happening to immigrant children and their families is even worse due to the Trump Administration’s so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols,” or MPP. With no thought to the dangers children would face in Mexico and no mass-scale humanitarian response, the Department of Homeland Security is right now forcing all families seeking asylum in the U.S. to instead return to Mexico to await their hearings. Media reports indicate that the administration has sent more than 60,000 families back to Mexico.
Faced with abductions, gang rapes, kidnappings and murders in Mexico, parents are making the heart-wrenching decision to send their children across the border alone because MPP is not supposed to impact unaccompanied children. This policy must be ended right away.
“Carlos is gone, but we are all here together, and we must use our voices to urge our elected leaders to prevent what happened to Carlos from ever happening to another child ever again”
It is our hope that policymakers and the media will keep shining a light on what is happening to children in Mexico. The release of this video of Carlos should incite us all to speak out, not just for a transparent and fair investigation into his death, but also for an immediate end to MPP and immediate passage of H.R. 3239 and S.2135, legislation passed by the House in July and currently held up in the Senate which would require basic humanitarian standards in CBP facilities like the one where Carlos died.
Until these things happen, what can be done?
Carlos is gone, but we are here, with a pen and a platform, on behalf of 67,000 pediatricians who care for children every day, to share his story.
Carlos is gone, but you are here too, reading these words and watching his final moments, bearing witness to what happened to him and what is happening to other migrant children right now.
Carlos is gone, but we are here together, and we must use our voices to urge our elected leaders to prevent what happened to Carlos from ever happening to another child ever again.
It’s all we can do, and it’s what we must do.
* The views expressed in this article are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Sara “Sally” H. Goza, MD, FAAP, is the 2019 President-Elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr Goza is a general pediatrician and has had the privilege of taking care of children in her hometown of Fayetteville, Ga., for over 30 years. She is a managing partner in First Georgia Physicians Group.
Kyle Yasuda, MD, FAAP, is the current resident of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Yasuda formerly worked in primary care pediatric practice for 18 years prior to joining the University of Washington School of Medicine where he served as clinical professor of pediatrics for 16 years and medical director of the associated pediatric clinics.