Americans Are Fundraising to Buy Migrant Children Soap, Toothbrushes and Blankets Since the Trump Administration Doesn't Think It Has to

Americans across the country have launched fundraisers to help buy detained migrant children soap, toothbrushes and blankets after it came to light that children were being denied such basic items at one Texas facility—and after a lawyer for the Trump administration tried to argue that it isn't the government's responsibility to provide them.

On Friday, it emerged that children at one detention facility in Texas were being forced to care for each other, while also facing inadequate access to food, water and sanitary items after a legal team interviewed 60 children being held there by the government.

The conditions were deemed so "appalling" that the government was reportedly forced to move the nearly 300 children staying at the detention center to a tent facility in El Paso.

Meanwhile, last week, a lawyer for the Trump administration argued that the government should not be required to provide migrant children with sanitary items, such as soap and toothbrushes, or even access to showers or blankets, because such items do not appear in the Flores Settlement Agreement, which requires the U.S. government to ensure "safe and sanitary" conditions for migrant children in federal custody.

Judges were left stunned by the argument, with Senior U.S. Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima telling Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian that it should be "within everybody's common understanding" that "if you don't have a toothbrush, if you don't have soap, if you don't have a blanket, it's not safe and sanitary."

Taking to crowdfunding website GoFundMe, Americans appeared to agree, with several campaigns launching online to help raise funds to purchase soap, toothbrushes and other items for migrant children detained in the U.S.

"If you are upset to see your government argue that soap toothbrushes pillows and blankets are not basic necessities every child needs to be healthy, so am I," one fundraiser in North Carolina, Erv Portman, wrote on a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $1,700 of its $10,000 goal since it was launched on Sunday.

"Enough with a government that does not reflect our values," Portman wrote. "My faith teaches me we are responsible and I want to help these kids. Will you help me get them soap, toothbrushes, blankets and pillows? All money will go to getting these things to refugee kids being held in U.S. detention... in our name."

"It's sad that we even have to think about doing this," one supporter, Ron Nawojczyk, who contributed $100 to the cause, wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Portman's was not the only GoFundMe page to be set up to help purchase the basic items, however, with at least eight other similar pages set up within the last three days.

One crowdfunding page launched in New York, which has, so far, only raised $40, called on American "soapmakers and friends of soapmakers to craft enough soap to meet the hygienic need" at the U.S.' "cruel detention centers."

While their hearts might be in the right place, crowdfunders may struggle to see their donations delivered to detained migrant children, with a report from the Texas Tribune suggesting that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency will not accept donations from the public.

According to the Tribune, would-be donor Austin Savage and his friends had purchased $340 worth of soap, diapers, wipes and toys and tried to deliver them to the Border Patrol station in Clint.

However, when the group arrived at the station, they found that it was closed, while attempts to talk to Border Patrol agents in a nearby parking area were unsuccessful.

While the donations were left with another bag of donations that had been left by the station's door, with a note attached that read: "I heard y'all need soap + toothpaste for kids," it is unclear what Border Patrol agents would have done with them.

Democratic state Representative Terry Canales told the Tribune that he had reached out to CBP to see how the public could make donations in support of children staying at government-run facilities.

Canales said that while he was initially told that donations would not be accepted, one representative suggested that could change.

"These kids are being underserved, and they're not getting what they need. We discussed diapers, hygiene products, and I pressed upon him that from a PR perspective that it looks terrible we're not meeting their needs and they're not accepting donations from the public," Canales told the Tribune.

"He, to some extent, agreed with me and said he would get back with me and see how we can collaborate. So the lines of communication are open," he said.

Newsweek has contacted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which manages donation policies for CBP, to find out what its current policy on the matter is.

Savage said that he had been warned by a friend who is an immigration lawyer that the CBP would be unlikely to accept the donations.

However, he said that he wanted to do "something as opposed to passively allowing" the situation at the border to unfold.

Migrant child border
A girl waits to be given asylum or a humanitarian visa at the immigration office on the Mexico-Guatemala international bridge in Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas State, Mexico, on June 6. Americans have launched online fundraisers to buy basic sanitary and care items for migrant children detained in the U.S. after a lawyer for the Trump administration argued that the government shouldn't have to provide them. PEDRO PARDO/Getty