These are the places where infant and child migrants are held
TORNILLO, Texas — One is a former hospital. Another is a retrofitted superstore. One is a tent city with the capacity to grow.
These are the places where infants and children are held after they cross the US-Mexico border without prior authorization.
Children are sent to different facilities across the country depending on their age, gender and history of behavioral issues or criminal activity, if any. Some are newly built “tender age” facilities to accommodate the influx of children under 13 who have been separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration enforcement policy.
Others facilities have existed for years as shelters for migrant children who enter the US alone or were separated from their families. The practice of separating families isn’t new — it’s simply happening more often now under the administration’s policy of prosecuting all suspected immigration violations at the border.
In Texas, the administration opened a new temporary shelter in June on federal land in Tornillo to accommodate the influx of children.
The shelter consists of what an HHS spokesman called “soft-sided structures” resembling tents equipped with air-conditioning to withstand the high temperatures
The Tornillo camp was originally built with 360 beds and room for expansion.
At the Central Processing Center in McAllen, US Border Patrol agents conduct intake of migrants.
After intake, people are taken into custody while they await prosecution or deportation proceedings.
Images of people held in cages have drawn widespread criticism and calls for reform of immigration enforcement policies.
Democratic Texas Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. toured a new shelter in Brownsville for children under 13. The center is managed by the nonprofit Southwest Key Programs in coordination with Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.
He said the former hospital has about 80 children under the age of 10 — 40 of whom he believed were separated from their parents as a result of the zero tolerance policy. One room held four infants, two of whom were accompanied by their teenaged mothers, he said. The children receive constant attention, he said. “People are doing what they can under the circumstances.”
The administration has been tight-lipped over who’s going where, exactly.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar expressing concern over “unconfirmed reports” that a facility in his state for unaccompanied minors is now “potentially holding children who have been forcibly removed from their families.” The Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children is a former Job Corps site that’s now run as a shelter by the federal government. A photo taken there on Monday showed boys playing outside the facility.
In his letter, Scott demanded confirmation of reports that children separated from their families were being sent to the Homestead shelter, along with information about health screening protocols at the border and what, if any, health and education resources were being provided to children placed in Florida.