Interviews and a Times review showed a shelter system with wildly varying conditions, some of which are far below the standard that the Biden administration has promised.
WASHINGTON — In a federal shelter in Dallas, migrant children sleep in a windowless convention center room under fluorescent lights that never go dark.
At a military base in El Paso, teenagers pile onto bunk cots, and some say they have gone days without bathing.
And in Erie, Pa., problems began emerging within days of the shelter’s creation: “Fire safety system is a big concern,” an internal report noted. Some of the hot water heaters were not working, and lice was “a big issue and seems to be increasing.”
Early this year, children crossing the southwestern border in record numbers were crammed into Customs and Border Protection’s cold-floored, jail-like detention facilities. They slept side by side on mats with foil blankets, almost always far longer than the legal limit of 72 hours. Republicans declared it a crisis. Democrats and immigration groups denounced the conditions, which erupted into an international embarrassment for President Biden, who had campaigned on a return to compassion in the immigration system.