Rachel Maddow cries on air as she learns babies are being sent to 'tender age' shelters

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has broken down on air while reading a breaking news item about the plight of migrant children.

During her regular MSNBC show, Ms Maddow began to sob as she learned that migrant babies and toddlers are now being sent to what are known as 'tender age' shelters.

She was not able to go on and brought the show to an early close.

The Trump administration is separating young immigrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border and sending them to at least three different shelters in South Texas, AP News reports.

Medical staff and lawyers who have visited the shelters in Rio Grande Valley shelters have described playrooms of crying children.

AP News reports since the White House announced its zero tolerance policy in May, more than 2300 children have been taken from their parents at the border, resulting in a new influx of young children requiring government care.

The government has also faced criticism over images of some of the children in cages inside US Border Patrol processing stations.

Kay Bellor, vice president for programmes at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, told AP News, "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."

She says toddlers are being detained.

Michelle Brane, director of migrant rights at the Women's Refugee Commission says the facilities aren't made for tender aged children.

Health and Human Services defines “tender age” typically as 12 and under, Customs and Border Protection has at times defined it as 5 and under.

"There is no model for how you house tonnes of little children in cots institutionally in our country. We don't do orphanages, our child welfare has recognised that is an inappropriate setting for little children," she told AP News.

There has been a recent call for proposals by the federal government's Office of Refugee Resettlement seeking applicants who can provide services for a diverse population of all ages and genders.