Crying children fill 'tender age' shelters

2018-06-20 21:56

US President Donald Trump's immigration policies have come under intense scrutiny because of the forced separation of more than 2 300 migrant children from their parents. Democrats and some Republicans are urging an end to the practice at the US-Mexico border. A look at the latest developments:

The Associated Press has learned that babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border are being sent to "tender age" shelters in South Texas.

Play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis were described by lawyers and medical providers who visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters. The government plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move on Tuesday.

Rachel Maddow, host of her eponymous show on MSNBC, broke down while she was live on the air sharing the AP's exclusive story describing these shelters. After trying to get through the first couple of sentences, she said, "I'm sorry. I think I'm going to have to hand this off", ending her segment.

No plans on how to reunite families

Trump administration officials say they haven't yet figured out how to reunite the thousands of children separated from their families at the border.

"We're still working through the experience of reunifying kids with their parents after adjudication," said Steven Wagner, an acting assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Federal officials say there are some methods parents can use to try to find their children: Hotlines to call and an email address for those seeking information.

"They should just give the kids back to their parents. This isn't difficult," said Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Governors pull resources from border

In a largely symbolic but politically significant rejection of the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy, the governors of multiple East Coast states have announced that they will not deploy National Guard resources near the US-Mexico border.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, announced on Tuesday morning on his Twitter account that he has ordered four crew-members and a helicopter to immediately return from where they were stationed in New Mexico.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who like Hogan is a Republican governor in a blue state, on Monday reversed a decision to send a National Guard helicopter to the border, citing the Trump administration's "cruel and inhuman" policy.

On the Democratic side, governors in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New York and Virginia have all indicated their refusal to send Guard resources to assist with immigration-related issues.

Impact on children grim

The American Medical Association's chief executive officer, Dr. James Madara sent a letter to the Trump administration urging them to stop the practice of separating children from their parents at the southern border.

Madara said in the letter on Tuesday that it's well known that childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences created by inhumane treatment often create negative health impacts that can last a lifetime.

Madara sent the letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Mother describes separation from 8-year old son

A Salvadoran mother says she hasn't spoken to her 8-year-old son in a month, since immigration officials separated them after they crossed the US-Mexico border to seek asylum.

Blanca Orantes-Lopez is being detained at a federal prison south of Seattle while she pursues her asylum claim. She doesn't know when she'll see her son again. He's being kept across the country in upstate New York.

She told her story to The Associated Press in a phone interview from the prison. It's emblematic of about 2 000 other cases in which the Trump administration has separated children from their parents amid a crackdown on illegal immigration.

She says that when officials took her son away, he cried, "Don't leave me, Mom."

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