The Trump administration could be holding 30,000 undocumented immigrant children by the end of August as a result of its push to enforce federal immigration laws, which has led to the separation of children from their parents and guardians as those adults are prosecuted, reports The Washington Examiner.
A senior administration official who asked not to be identified said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been taking in about 250 children per day in recent weeks (HHS is the agency that is taking in children when they are separated from their families).
An HHS official also added that the agency expects to be taking about 250 kids each day at least for the next two months. If that estimate holds, HHS could be caring for 18,500 more children by the end of August. The official said as of Friday, HHS was already holding 11,500 children, which means the total could hit 30,000 by August.
The practice of separating children from undocumented immigrant adults has become highly controversial in the last few weeks, and the media has highlighted the issue by revealing the horrible conditions of immigration detention centers, where children are being held in cages and separated from their families.
Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of immigrant children wait in cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets, the Associated Press reports.
One teenager said she was helping care for a young child she didn’t know because the child’s aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She had to show others in her cell how to change the girl’s diaper.
The U.S. Border Patrol allowed reporters to visit the facility where it holds families arrested at the southern U.S. border, responding to new criticism and protests over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and resulting separation of families.
Yet reporters were not allowed to interview any of the detainees or take photos.
More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility that’s divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own, and mothers and fathers with children. The cages in each wing open out into common areas to use portable restrooms. The overhead lighting stays on around the clock.
The Border Patrol said 200 people inside the facility were minors unaccompanied by a parent. Another 500 were “family units,” parents and children.
In a statement last Friday, Trump condemned the practice of taking away children at the border, declaring, “I hate the children being taken away,” but he falsely blamed Democrats for a law requiring it.
First lady Melania Trumo said she also “hates” to see families separated at the border and hopes “both sides of the aisle” can reform U.S immigration laws, according to a statement Sunday about the controversy over separation of immigrant parents and children at the U.S- Mexico border.
Democrats responded to the president’s statement by saying that no law mandates the separation of children and parents at the border.
They claimed the current crisis is the result of a Trump administration policy that went into effect in May, which sought to maximize criminal prosecutions of people caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally. More adults were jailed as a result of the policy, which led to their children being separated from them.
Mrs. Trump didn’t refer specifically to the Trump administration’s “no tolerance” policy, which was causing a spike in children being separated from their families.
Megan Hadley is a staff writer at The Crime Report.