- Administration for Children and Families at the US Department of Health and Human Services
- The Trump administration is set to construct a “tent city” shelter in Tornillo, Texas, to house migrant children.
- The move comes after an uptick in the amount of migrant children in government custody, stemming from the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy toward people caught illegally crossing the border.
- The Tornillo site was also used to house migrant children and families in tents in 2016.
The Trump administration has reportedly selected a site in the Texas desert to establish a “tent city” shelter that will house hundreds of migrant children at a time, in an effort to accommodate the influx of children in government custody, who in some cases have been separated from their parents.
The site is the Tornillo Land Port of Entry, near El Paso, Texas, NBC News reported on Thursday. The site was similarly used in 2016 as a temporary facility to house migrant families and children in canvas tents.
The Trump administration has for months sought solutions for accommodating the rising number of unaccompanied children and migrant families apprehended at the border in recent months. The Department of Health and Human Services has reported that its shelters for migrant children are currently at 95% capacity..
The news comes in the wake of the Trump administration’s new “zero-tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute all migrants who cross the US-Mexico border illegally and separate them from their children.
The policy and the uptick in border arrests has resulted in a surge in the amount of migrant children in custody – HHS told The Washington Post on Thursday it was holding 11,432 migrant children in custody, up from the 8,886 it was holding in April.
It’s unclear how many of those children were separated from their parents and how many arrived at the border already unaccompanied, but a Customs and Border Protection official recently told lawmakers that 658 children had been separated from 638 adults within one two-week period in May.
The policy has stoked considerable backlash in recent weeks, as stories of traumatized children and devastated parents have been elevated in the national media. But the Trump administration has largely dismissed the complaints.