Civil rights groups who obtained a court order to allow them to visit the Central American women and their children who are being held in those 'processing centers' tell News Radio 1200 WOAI they're shocked at the conditions they found inside.
"I think the bottom line is that when we look back on 2014 as an episode in U.S. immigration history, we as a country will have a lot to be ashamed of," said Cecilla Wang of the ACLU Immigrants Rights Project, one of several activist groups which had to obtain several court orders to break the Obama Administration’s 'cone of silence' surrounding the processing centers.
She says they received an order from a federal judge allowing them to visit one center, but in the interim, Health and Human Services moved all of the families out of the center so it was empty when they arrived.
Wang says not only are the women and children being housed in 'deplorable' conditions, but she says they are subject to harassment and bullying by officials who run the centers.
"Mothers told us over and over again by the guards who were there to watch them, 'you will be detained and deported'," she said.
She says to deport these individuals without due process hearings violates the 2008 William Wilberforce Sex Trafficking Law, which affords hearings to any individuals who arrive in the U.S. from countries other than Mexico, under the supposition that they may be part of a sex trafficking ring.
"The overwhelming and uniform message from all sectors of the United States government has been, to detain and deport these individuals as soon as possible in order to send a message," she said.
Wang says mothers told her of absolutely unspeakable terror underway in places like Honduras and El Salvador, where violent gangs run rampant through small towns, raping women and girls, and forcibly recruiting young boys, often by mutilating them or killing them in public to send a message.
"The U.S. governor appears to be blocking mothers who are fleeing extreme violence from making their case for asylum or for any other means of protection," Wang said.
The groups blasted the HUMANE Act, a proposal submitted by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tx) and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) as a way to rush the deportations of the children and women, to send them back to near certain death in Central America.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the three nations which have sent the most unaccompanied minors to the U.S., Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, will meet with President Obama at the White House today.
Cuellar, who met with the Honduran President on Thursday, says there needs to be a plan in place.
"A plan on how we can return these kids in a safe way, and put them in safe hands," he said.
One idea, he said, is to set up 'repatriation centers' in those countries, where the children and mothers being deported can be received and cared for in their home country.
Cuellar says the Central American governments also have to crack down on the crime and corruption which has bred conditions for the youngsters to flee to the U.S., and they also have to crack down on the smugglers who are making a fortune, charging ten times the price of airfare, to bring the kids from Central America to Texas.
"In some of those countries, smuggling is not a crime," he said. "I know in Honduras, they are making changes to that law."