The Trump administration’s efforts to separate children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border has been so successful that they’re running out of places to shelter them. In at least some Southern states, they’re reportedly considering putting the children in tent cities.
These tent cities would hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children, officials from the Department of Health and Human Services and other sources familiar with the plans told McClatchy News Service on Tuesday. More than 10,000 migrant children are already being held at HHS shelters, which are currently almost full.
The news comes just weeks after the Trump administration began implementing a “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal migration, immediately arresting and detaining people trying to enter the country illegally — but without their children. Since then, the number of migrant children held in U.S. government custody without their parents has increased by more than 20 percent, resulting in the full HHS shelters.
The new policy isn’t always communicated fully to illegal migrants.
On May 12, a Honduran father was seeking asylum when Texas Border Patrol officers forcibly separated him from his wife and 3-year-old child. They transferred him to a Texas jail, where he killed himself, according to Border Patrol agents and an incident report filed by sheriff’s deputies obtained by the Washington Post on Saturday.
A public defender in the same state told the Boston Globe earlier this week that some migrants are told their kids are going to be taken away briefly to bathe and then “hours later, it dawns on them that their children aren't coming back.”
Homeland Security officials told the Post that they're doing more to explain the separation process to parents, but these incidents haven't seemed to phase Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who on Monday announced that the administration will continue cracking down on illegal migration, this time by ending the practice of granting asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence.
“If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them,” Sessions said in a radio interview last week. “We’ve got to get this message out. You’re not given immunity. You have to, you will be prosecuted if you… come illegally. And if you bring children, you’ll still be prosecuted.”
Cover image: Central American immigrants depart ICE custody, pending future immigration court hearings on June 11, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Thousands of undocumented immigrants continue to cross into the U.S., despite the Trump administration's recent 'zero tolerance' approach to immigration policy. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.