WASHINGTON (WNEW) — A 15-year-old immigrant from El Salvador testified before a congressional panel Tuesday claiming that he was mistreated by border officials.
The teen identified as Saul told the Congressional Progressive Caucus during an ad-hoc hearing that his time at a border detention facility was “horrible,” describing it as “the worst experience” of his life after the unaccompanied minor crossed the border illegally in April.
“I walked 30 minutes to the immigration station where I was placed in a big room with 200 children aged 10 and up,” Saul told the caucus. “The room was very cold, I was shivering the whole time. There weren’t any beds. They gave us nylon which barely kept us warm and they gave us cold ham sandwiches twice a day. I was very hungry because it wasn’t enough food.”
Saul claimed that officials handcuffed some children outside the room if they didn’t behave well.
“The whole time I was there children were crying,” he said.
The immigrant teen explained that he felt mistreated during his six days at an immigration detention center, stating there was only one bathroom for 200 people.
“My time in the ice boxes was the worst experience of my life. I hardly slept for six days,” Saul testified. “The lights were on for 24 hours a day and they didn’t allow us to sleep because they came in every 2 hours to count how many children were there.”
Saul pleaded for immigrant children not to be allegedly mistreated.
“Please don’t mistreat children the way your government has mistreated me,” he said.
Saul also explained that he came to the United States to flee the violence he saw in his home country, where he was threatened by gang members and saw a man murdered in front of his house.
“I want to ask you to not deport children like me because it’s very possible you would deport them to violence and their death,” he told the panel.
The immigrant teen currently lives in Long Island, N.Y., with his mother and four sisters and will be starting school in September.
Two other teens from Guatemala and Honduras also testified at the hearing.