Hundreds of illegal migrant boys are spending their first nights in America under the roof of a former Walmart in Texas, where they’re being kept away from their parents amid the U.S. government’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has released images of the overflow shelter in Brownsville, Texas, in hopes of deterring future border crossings into the country.
More than 1,500 boys between the ages of 10 and 17 are housed at the facility, which is now called “Casa Padre,” while their parents languish elsewhere in jail. The shelter is already housing more children than there are beds, with more expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
The boys spend their time watching movies, playing games, eating and learning inside the facility, with only two hours of outside time permitted each day.
The walls of the shelter are decorated with images and quotes from U.S. presidents, including Trump.
The facility is just one of several overflow shelters being used to house undocumented migrant children, all of whom have been deliberately separated from their parents at the border.
The U.S. recently started enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward all undocumented migrants who enter the country. Adults are being detained and charged with crimes, while the children are being taken away and put into foster care or shelters.
The Trump administration says almost 2,000 children were separated from their parents at the border from April 19 to May 31.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has cited the Bible in defence of the detentions.
“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” he said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”
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President Trump, whose Republican Party holds the majority of seats in both houses of Congress, has repeatedly claimed that Democrats are to blame.
He suggested in a tweet on Friday that the problem could be solved with an immigration bill that includes funding for his proposed border wall, along with a number of concessions.
The United Nations has said the U.S. policy is unlawful and violates the rights of children.
With files from Reuters and The Associated Press