The Trump administration has at least three “tender age” shelters used to house undocumented babies taken away from their parents at the border.
On Tuesday night, the Associated Press (AP) reported that the “tender age” shelters are all in Combes, Raymondsville, and Brownsville, Texas. Plans to open a fourth shelter in Houston are currently underway in order to accommodate several hundred more infants and toddlers being separated from their families. More than 2,300 undocumented children have already been taken away from their parents since April.
“The thought that they are going to be putting such little kids in an institutional setting? I mean it is hard for me to even wrap my mind around it,” Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service vice president Kay Bellor told the AP. “Toddlers are being detained.”
According to various attorneys and healthcare providers who have been to the facilities, the tender age shelters are reportedly described as “play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis.” The description is similar to that of a viral audio clip of children as young as four years old crying for their parents in a Border Patrol facility reportedly near the Texas/Mexico border.
However, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) told the AP that the facilities are humane and well-equipped to care for young children, including those with special needs.
“They’re not government facilities per se, and they have very well-trained clinicians, and those facilities meet state licensing standards for child welfare agencies, and they’re staffed by people who know how to deal with the needs — particularly of the younger children,” said DHHS spokesman Steven Wagner.
The Trump administration’s policy of taking children away from families was officially rolled out in late April and early May, although President Trump has stuck to blaming Democrats for his own policy. Fact-checking website Snopes debunked Trump’s assertion that the child separation policy was the fault of Democrats and a law passed during the Clinton administration.
“There is no federal law that stipulates that children and parents be separated at the border, no matter how families entered the United States,” Snopes wrote.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.