The U.S. Border Patrol official in charge of the El Paso, Texas, region where migrant children have been held in bleak conditions with inadequate care is being reassigned, according to NBC News and the New York Times.
Aaron Hull, chief of the El Paso sector, will be transferred to the Detroit sector on Monday amid an outcry over neglect and mistreatment of hundreds of children held for weeks at a Texas border detention center.
The reassignment, first reported by NBC, will take Hull from commanding about 2,000 agents in one of the highest-traffic locations along the U.S.-Mexico border to a relatively quiet spot on the Canadian border, where he will supervise about 400 agents.
Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security officials told the New York Times the move had been planned for some time following “a period of intense scrutiny” of Hull’s management of the El Paso sector. A Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman declined to say whether the recent outcry over detention conditions contributed to the transfer, according to the Times.
The Border Patrol’s El Paso sector has been the subject of numerous recent news reports about inhumane conditions for detainees. Attorneys who interviewed over 60 minors at Border Patrol facilities in El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley sectors in June said migrant children are being held in overcrowded conditions, not properly fed, not allowed to bathe or brush their teeth and are forced to sleep on concrete under bright lights.
“The declarations paint a picture of wanton disregard for the safety and welfare of children in their care,” said Hope Frye, an immigration lawyer who spoke with detained migrant children. “There is a complicity across Customs and Border Protection in the systematic persecution of children and the cruel and inhuman circumstances in which they are kept.”
Gloria Chavez, who heads the Border Patrol sector in El Centro, California, will replace Hull in El Paso, according to NBC and the Times.
Meanwhile, Hull’s boss is facing heat for another controversy. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost was a member of a secret Facebook group in which members posted racist and hateful comments directed toward migrants and progressive members of Congress, The Associated Press reported. Provost claimed she joined the group to read what members thought of her.
Homeland Security officials have said 70 current or former Border Patrol employees are being investigated for involvement in the group.