There are many compassionate people in America and so when reports of unsanitary conditions and limited supplies for detained children living in a border patrol station spread across the country, many of these compassionate people thought they could help by donating things like diapers, soap, toothbrushes and toys for the children being detained.
But, as we noted earlier this week, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is not accepting donations of physical goods and is not accepting offers to volunteer inside the detention facilities.
As first reported by The Texas Tribune, well-meaning people showing up with goods are being turned away, and a Border Patrol official told a state lawmaker that the agency doesn't accept donations. When Texas state Rep. Terry Canales of Edinburg reached out to Border Patrol asking for a list of acceptable items to donate, he was shocked and disappointed by the response.
"The United States Border Patrol has responded, telling my office they do not accept donations," he tweeted.
CNN reports Border Patrol officials say they aren't actually running low on supplies, so they don't need the donations. On a call with journalists, the unnamed official reportedly told CNN the agency uses operational funding to buy these kinds of things and that they have been available continuously, although they did note they are looking at the possibility of using donations in the future.
CBP says it has the funding for hygiene supplies, but it is that the clear hygiene supplies aren't making it to the detainees. Canales explains the disconnect is worrisome, and he thinks direct donations would help and is keeping a dialogue open with CBP about the possibility. "The reality is Border Patrol is overwhelmed, and whether they've got the monetary funding to provide the resources and whether they can provide the resources are two different things," he explained to CNN.
While CBP may be considering it, there's a whole lot standing in the way, namely, the Antideficiency Act, which prevents government agencies from "accepting voluntary services for the United States, or employing personal services not authorized by law, except in cases of emergency involving the safety of human life or the protection of property."
Many would argue that this situation is an "emergency involving the safety of human life," but at this point, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is going by the book and saying no.
Motherly has heard from concerned people seeking advice on how to volunteer inside the facilities. At this point, that is not possible. Canales is hoping to keep working with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to figure out a way that people who want to help these kids can. "I understand there can be some policy reasons and security reasons, but these reasons can be overcome," he told CNN.
Right now, when people show up with boxes of diapers they are not being received, so taking such goods to a border patrol facility may not be the best use of your time and funds. We have listed organizations that are helping and can accept donations here.
Meanwhile, late Tuesday the House passed a $4.5 billion emergency border aid package intended to fund care for people who have been detained after coming over the U.S.-Mexico border, as Customs and Border Protection is clearly overwhelmed. Last week Chief Operating Officer John Sanders told The Associated Press the border patrol stations (which are supposed to hold about 4,000 people, max) are way, way over capacity with about 15,000 detainees. This week, Sanders announced he's resigning.