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Babies and other young migrants being housed in "tender age" shelters

A migrant child is surrounded by border patrol officers
Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Babies and toddlers who have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border are being housed in at least three "tender age" shelters in Southern Texas, the AP's Garance Burke and Martha Mendoza report, with a fourth shelter expected to open in Houston soon.

Behind the scenes: "Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis," Burke and Mendoza write.

Why it matters: The Trump administration's zero tolerance policy has resulted in more than 2,000 children being separated from their families since May, creating a wave of migrant children in need of government care.

The details: As Burke and Mendoza point out, migrant children traveling alone are required by law to be sent to Health and Human Services facilities. Once there, the department places the children into shelters or foster care until they are back in the custody of a relative or sponsor in the community.

  • The three "tender age" shelters are located in Combes, Raymondville, and Brownsville, Texas.
  • The fourth is expected to be located in a warehouse in Houston that was used as a shelter during Hurricane Harvey.

What they're saying:

“We have specialized facilities that are devoted to providing care to children with special needs and tender age children as we define as under 13 would fall into that category. 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.”
— HHS official Steven Wagner tells the AP
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