U.S. Customs and Border Protection has released footage showing hundreds of undocumented adults and minors being held in cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas.
Border Patrol agents allowed reporters into the huge warehouse, located in South Texas, on Sunday. The facility currently holds more than 1,100 people inside, according to the Associated Press. This number includes hundreds of unaccompanied children using large foil sheets as blankets to sleep on mats on the floor. One cage held 20 children inside according to several reports.
The media visit followed widespread public and international criticism of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of separating immigrant families at the border. Much of the footage and photos of the facility come from the government, as reporters were not allowed to interview any of the detainees or take photos inside the facility.
According to agents, 200 kids in the warehouse are unaccompanied minors, while 500 are considered to be “family units.” The rest are adults. As of this report, almost 2,000 children have been separated from their parents since Jeff Sessions announced the new policy.
"Those kids inside who have been separated from their parents are already being traumatized," Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley said. "It doesn't matter whether the floor is swept and the bed sheets tucked in tight."
Michelle Brane, director of migrant rights at the Women's Refugee Commission, also visited the facility and called the experience traumatizing for the children. "The government is literally taking kids away from their parents and leaving them in inappropriate conditions," Brane said. "If a parent left a child in a cage with no supervision with other 5-year-olds, they'd be held accountable."