The following statement may be attributed to Héctor Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIU:
“The deeply disturbing and tragic death of a second Guatemalan child in the custody of Border Patrol demands immediate reform of the agency’s detention practices, and an end to the Trump administration’s absolutely inhumane treatment of migrants. Less than two weeks after the Border Patrol admitted that 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died of dehydration while in their custody, the agency announced yesterday that an 8-year-old boy also died in custody just as Christmas Eve turned into Christmas Day. The detention facilities run by the immigration agencies under Homeland Security are often called “hieleras,” Spanish for “ice boxes,” and reports inform us that migrants are given only “paper thin” Mylar blankets, without enough to eat or drink. To add insult to injury, President Trump spoke to reporters about immigration on Christmas morning without making mention of the boy’s death. Instead, the president renewed his demanded for his senseless and wasteful border wall, reinforcing his decision to hold a quarter of the federal government ransom by forcing a shutdown that has left hundreds of thousands of employees without paychecks, including many members of 32BJ. This administration has not only terrorized and torn apart families seeking asylum, it has now left over half a million U.S. citizens without steady income over the holidays and had two innocent children die in its custody. We grieve for this unnamed child and offer our condolences to his family, and we call for the Trump administration to end its immoral assault on immigrants now.”
With 163,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.