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Texas Matters: Asylum-Seeking Children In Inhumane Conditions And The Perfect Novel: 'Stoner'

Anna Surinyach | MSF

The situation on the border isn’t getting any better. The flow of asylum seekers from a destabilized Central America is running into a politically charged federal government response that is not focused humanitarian aid.

While the debate churns over the appropriateness of calling the detention facilities “concentration camps,” eyewitness accounts of some locations said the conditions are without parallel.

Recent reports from a detention facility near Clint, Texas, outside of El Paso, describe hundreds of young people being contained in inhumane conditions.  The reporting tells of over 250 infants, children and teens locked up for weeks without adequate food, water and sanitation.    

Warren Binford is part of an inspection team that witnessed the conditions at Clint, Texas.

She is an internationally recognized children's rights scholar and advocate. She is also a Professor of Law and serves as the Director of the Clinical Law Program at Willamette University. 

That Clint BP station is just one of a number of border facilities that are being called substandard and dangerous. A May inspection by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security found that the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center is dangerously overcrowded.

There are 900 people in holding despite the fact that it's only supposed to hold a maximum of 125 people.

Communities are responding along the Texas Mexico border trying to provide relief and humane treatment for the asylum seekers.

The Laredo’s Holding Institute has been around since the late 1800s.  It started out as a school for Mexican-American children who weren't allowed in Texas Public schools.

Now, it’s a community center and shelter for migrants from Central America.

TPR’s Reynaldo Leanos Jr. reports it’s taking in migrants from communities all along the Texas-Mexico border that have run out of space.


The novel “Stoner” was a critical but not a popular success when it was first published in 1965. Rediscovered in the early 2000s, it’s gone on to become an international bestseller and a celebrated cult-classic.  Many have called it the “perfect” work, a quintessential American novel. 

Author Steve Almond, has long understood the allure of this novel and why it endures six decades later. He’s written a book about the novel and uses his analysis to discuss his own story as a writer, teacher, father, and husband.

His book underscores the ways in which literature guides us to an understanding of the inner life we each possess and must be attentive to as a balm against the distractions of a social media selfie world.

Texas Public Radio contributor Yvette Benavides spoke to Steve Almond about his book “William Stoner and the Battle for the Inner Life.”

“William Stoner and the Battle for the Inner Life” is published by Ig Publishing.

David Martin Davies can be reached at DMDavies@TPR.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi