The Trump administration is forcibly separating babies and toddlers from their parents on the border with Mexico and sending them to what they call “tender age shelters” in South Texas, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Lawyers and medical providers who visited the three shelters — located in Combes, Raymondville, and Brownsville — said they saw playrooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis.
They described the shelters as clean and safe, but found toddlers and babies who didn’t know where their parents were and who were “hysterical, crying, and acting out.”
“The shelters aren’t the problem; it’s taking kids from their parents that’s the problem,” said South Texas pediatrician Marsha Griffin, who has visited a number of the facilities.
Reacting to the news, former Attorney General Eric Holder said the Trump administration had “brought shame to the nation. We are better than this.” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow broke down while reading the news on her show Tuesday night.
The government is planning to open a fourth facility in Houston that could house up to 240 children, but Mayor Sylvester Turner said the center was not welcome. “And so there comes a point in time we draw a line, and for me, the line is with these children,” Turner said Tuesday.
Between May 5 — when Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” immigration policy went into effect — and June 9, a total of 2,342 children were separated from their parents and housed in shelters, according to Brian Hastings, acting chief of law enforcement operations for the Border Patrol.
The policy has led to a backlash at home and abroad with both Democrats and Republicans, as well as groups like the United Nations, condemning the practice as inhumane.
New legislation proposed by the Republicans, designed as a quick fix to the current crisis, now looks unlikely to find enough support to be passed — despite Trump’s last-ditch attempt to rally support.
Cover image: President Donald Trump leaves Capitol Hill on June 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. The President addressed the house Republican conference about immigration policy. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)