The youngest children separated from their parents at the border — some of them infants — are housed in three “tender age” shelters in South Texas, with a fourth planned for Houston, according to The Associated Press.
Doctors and lawyers who visited the facilities described them as clean and safe. Still, the children housed there were crying hysterically, reports said. The three centers, in Combes, Raymondville and Brownsville have been quickly repurposed to serve the needs of children under five. The shelters are “specialized facilities” with “very well-trained clinicians,” Steven Wagner, an official with the Department of Health and Human Services, told the AP.
A new Donald Trump administration policy of “zero-tolerance” has led to the separation of more than 2,300 children from their parents, who are uniformly prosecuted for the federal misdemeanor crime of crossing the border illegally. Because children can’t be sent to jails along with their parents, they are instead housed in shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Some of those children, according to lawmakers who described the scene inside one shelter, are as young as eight months old.
The youngest child (boy) I’ve seen here so far who was separated from his family is 8 months old and has been here over a month, according to administrators. #FamiliesBelongTogether
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) June 18, 2018
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other local officials have made it clear they do not want the fourth facility in their city. Turner said at a press conference Tuesday he does not want to be an “enabler.”