Head of the Tent Facility Detaining Migrant Kids Calls Family Separation Policy 'an Incredibly Dumb, Stupid Decision'

Illustration for article titled Head of the Tent Facility Detaining Migrant Kids Calls Family Separation Policy 'an Incredibly Dumb, Stupid Decision'
Photo: Getty

The guy in charge at the Tornilo, Texas tent facility holding 326 immigrant children hates his job, and so does pretty much everyone else working at the facility.


Buzzfeed News reports that the the unidentified man called the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated parents and children attempting to enter the United States “an incredibly dumb, stupid decision.”

“I’m totally against the separation. Should never have happened,” the incident commander told a group of reporters, including BuzzFeed News. On Monday morning, media were let into the Tornillo detention facility — under heavy restrictions — for the first visit since it opened June 14.

“It was an incredibly dumb, stupid decision by our leadership,” said the Tornillo incident commander. “It was flawed. All it did was harm children, no question about it.”

The incident commander is an employee of Texas-based non-profit BCFS, which provides emergency shelter and services for “at-risk populations.” BCFS has a government contract and—despite the commander’s feelings—swiftly constructed the tent compound currently holding hundreds of 13 to 17-year-olds, mostly boys.

But despite feeling totally bummed out about carrying out an extraordinarily vile policy and calling it a day’s work, the commander insists that the facilities are actually good:

The incident commander said he’d been advocating for the media to be allowed into the center to see how well it was running. He compared it to a youth summer camp, noting the children are fed well, sleep in bunks in tents, and play soccer. He also noted that the medical services — both mental and physical — plus the safety and security of Tornillo, were far superior to a normal camp.

I don’t know about this guy, but when I attended summer camp, I knew I was going to see my parents again when I got home. 

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.



Look, I mean - I kind of get it. People working at these camps object to the policy and are, as much as they can within their limited power, trying to make this as non-traumatic an experience for these children as possible.

The thing they don’t get, is that it’s impossible - the uncertainty alone is enough to cause anguish, severe depression and trauma. The Trump administration wants to introduce indefinite detention, and I can assure everyone that one of the side-effects of that is prolonged trauma, even resulting in death.

The real question is, at what point do people working at the camps stop accepting their role in this system - in Australia, the roles are outsourced to security contractors, because no charitable, not-for-profit, social welfare agency or company will touch it. The groups who assist and provide care to the people in detention camps have a high turn over due to the vicarious trauma or because they are banned from the camps for whistleblowing. We have to literally bribe and threaten foreign countries to hold and maintain our worst camps.

At what point do facility providers stop and say, this is not ok and we will not participate? When do they admit it isn’t temporary, that it is causing profound trauma, that people are dying, that it is inhumane and unconscionable?