Trump murals, overcrowding in Texas shelter for detained child migrants

Trump murals, overcrowding in Texas shelter for detained child migrants
Photo credit: Twitter / Jacob Soboroff

A journalist has detailed the alarming conditions of a Texas shelter for detained child migrants.

Casa Padre in Brownsville, Texas, is the largest licenced childcare facility of its kind in the United States. Nearly 1500 boys aged between 10 and 17 live at the shelter inside a former Walmart.

MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff was in the first group of journalists allowed into Casa Padre since the Trump administration's zero tolerance separation policy was announced.

The policy refers to those seeking asylum caught crossing the border into America illegally, and has enforced the separation of more than 500 children from their parents in the last month alone, according to CNN. 

"One of the first things you notice when you walk into the shelter - no joke - a mural of Trump with the quote 'sometimes losing a battle you find a new way to win the war'. Presidential murals everywhere. But that one is 1st," Mr Soboroff wrote on Twitter.

"Kids here get only two hours a day to be outside in fresh air. One hour of structured time. One hour of free time. The rest of the day is spent inside a former Walmart."

Mr Soboroff shared photos of the centre, including pictures of the boys lining up for lunch.

"This is not a school cafeteria. Hundreds called to eat at a time on rotating shifts. When I [said] it felt like a prison or jail, I was thinking about this."

Trump murals, overcrowding in Texas shelter for detained child migrants
Photo credit: Twitter / Jacob Soboroff

"They're supposed to sleep four to [a] room. Nearly every room has 5. They've received a variance from the state because of overcrowding," Mr Soboroff wrote.

The US government's zero tolerance separation policy has faced stark backlash over in recent weeks, with stories of devastated parents and traumatised children headlining US media.

"The children will be taken care of - put into foster care or whatever," White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told NPR last month.

Trump murals, overcrowding in Texas shelter for detained child migrants
Photo credit: Twitter / Jacob Soboroff

Casa Padre has been operating since before the Trump administration, taking in unaccompanied minors who show up to the border without a parent or guardian, MSNBC reporter Chris Hayes noted.

"But now 30 percent of those kids are kids our government has *rendered* unaccompanied by taking them from their parents."

Mr Hayes said before the zero tolerance separation policy, the government never had shelters for children under 10. Under the new rules, babies, toddlers, and other young children are being separated from their parents.

Mr Hayes said it is vital for media to be able to see through those facilities as well as the pre-existing shelters like Casa Padre.

This comes as reports surface of the Trump administration considering housing migrant children in "tent cities" on military bases near the border.

Casa Padre is licensed and one of 26 shelters run by trained staff from the nonprofit Southwest Key.

The president of Southwest Key told Mr Soboroff that potential new tent cities on federal property won't have to be licensed.

Newshub.

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