Hundreds of children wait in Border Patrol facility in Texas

In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a U.S. Border Patrol agent watches as people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, stand in line at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018 | Photo courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via the Associated Press, St. George News

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait away from their parents in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.

Update 11 p.m. This report has been updated to include photos of the Texas Border Patrol facility.

In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who’ve been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018 | Photo courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Rio Grande Valley Sector via the Associated Press, St. George News

The U.S. Border Patrol on Sunday allowed reporters to briefly visit the facility where it holds families arrested at the southern U.S. border, responding to new criticism and protests over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and resulting separation of families.

More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility that’s divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own and mothers and fathers with children. The cages in each wing open out into common areas to use portable restrooms. The overhead lighting in the warehouse stay on around the clock.

Reporters were not allowed by agents to interview any of the detainees or take photos. Photos were later provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Nearly 2,000 children have been taken from their parents since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the policy, which directs Homeland Security officials to refer all cases of illegal entry into the U.S. for prosecution. Church groups and human rights advocates have sharply criticized the policy, calling it inhumane.

Stories have spread of children being torn from their parents’ arms and parents not being able to find where their kids have gone. A group of congressional lawmakers visited the same facility Sunday and were set to visit a longer-term shelter holding around 1,500 children — many of whom were separated from their parents.

In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who’ve been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, sit in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018 | Photo courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Rio Grande Valley Sector via the Associated Press, St. George News

“Those kids inside who have been separated from their parents are already being traumatized,” said Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, who was denied entry earlier this month to a children’s shelter. “It doesn’t matter whether the floor is swept and the bedsheets tucked in tight.”

In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for people trying to enter the U.S., Border Patrol officials argue that they have to crack down on migrants and separate adults from children as a deterrent to others.

“When you exempt a group of people from the law … that creates a draw,” said Manuel Padilla, the Border Patrol’s chief agent here. “That creates the trends right here.”

Agents running the holding facility — generally known as “Ursula” for the name of the street it’s on — said everyone detained is given adequate food, access to showers and laundered clothes, and medical care. People are supposed to move through the facility quickly. Under U.S. law, children are required to be turned over within three days to shelters funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Padilla said agents in the Rio Grande Valley have allowed families with children under the age of 5 to stay together in most cases.

An advocate who spent several hours in the facility Friday said she was deeply troubled by what she found.

Stefanie Herweck stands with other protesters in front of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Rio Grande Valley Sector’s Centralized Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, June 17, 2018 | Photo by Joel Martinez/The Monitor via the Associated Press, St. George News

Michelle Brane, director of migrant rights at the Women’s Refugee Commission, met with a 16-year-old girl who had been taking care of a young girl for three days. The teen and others in their cage thought the girl was 2 years old.

“She had to teach other kids in the cell to change her diaper,” Brane said.

Brane said that after an attorney started to ask questions, agents found the girl’s aunt and reunited the two. It turned out that the girl was actually 4 years old. Part of the problem was that she didn’t speak Spanish, but K’iche, a language indigenous to Guatemala.

“She was so traumatized that she wasn’t talking,” Brane said. “She was just curled up in a little ball.”

Brane said she also saw officials at the facility scold a group of 5-year-olds for playing around in their cage, telling them to settle down. There are no toys or books.

But one boy nearby wasn’t playing with the rest. According to Brane, he was quiet, clutching a piece of paper that was a photocopy of his mother’s ID card.

“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.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • ladybugavenger June 17, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    It’s very sad. One side might say that its inhumane and these kids shouldn’t be separated (that is true) and another side might say, it’s the parents crossing illegally that are separating their children (that is also true)

    I went to both emotions when I heard the story on the news.

    The children are suffering and the parents are putting them through this

    Come here legally or dont come. I have to obey the laws of this country and so should illegals (oxymoron huh)

    • jaybird June 18, 2018 at 12:46 pm


      • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 1:11 pm

        That’s a bit much. Classic example of Godwin’s Law.

      • comments June 18, 2018 at 2:58 pm

        oooooh NAZI NAZI! scary nazis coming to get you! Better hide under the bed jailbird. hahaha 😉

      • jaybird June 18, 2018 at 6:11 pm

        Exactly white trash. You will pay.

      • John June 18, 2018 at 7:01 pm

        give jailbird a Darwin Award!

  • ladybugavenger June 17, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    2,oo0 kids taken away from their parents? That’s not even close to the amount of children taken away from their parents by DCFS, in one day, in the USA.

    • ladybugavenger June 17, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      My statistics are unconfirmed. But Y’all know its alot

    • bikeandfish June 17, 2018 at 7:07 pm

      How do the actions of DCFS compare to this new ICE policy? DCFS has the option of separating the child from family when the child is in danger related to the parents behavior. Removing children from parents at the border in this case is doing the opposite. Many of these families are fleeing violence, ie trying to protect their kids. Did you know that Trump recently changed policy, significantly more restrictions, regarding women seeking asylum due to abuse and domestic violence? Doesn’t seem very Christian. Nor does consequencing children for the “sins of the father.”

      • Gcia June 18, 2018 at 5:25 am

        Stop trying to enter the country illegally, and stop using your kids to do so. These people count on the fact that having young children in the process of hopping our border, will give them some kind of sympathy. They are being made an example of what not to do, so that others do not follow suit. Stay in your own country, it’s that simple. Come here legally, or don’t come. You say the kids shouldn’t pay for the sins of the father? The parents should not use their kids as leverage, but they do. One example, anchor babies. Once they hop the border, they quickly have kids, and those kids become their anchor, so they can stay in the country.

        • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 10:31 am

          You mean stop fleeing hostile and dangerous countries to seek asylum? That is beyond magical thinking. Its simple, no matter the consequences Trump fabricates the possibility of asylum is still safer than the alternative. And these kids are here to stay, so your criticism isn’t working. They are separated and then put into foster care in America.

          And a country that talks the big game like us is morally bankrupt if this is the best solution we can create. That is a statement against Dems and Repubs as Trump did build upon Obama’s legacy of failing to fully address the problem systematically. But Trump escalated it to intentionally inhumane treatment with purpose. And the “moral majority” on the right is falling all over themselves to support and justify it.

          • Faye June 18, 2018 at 6:55 pm

            OK this is just not the whole TRUTH BIKE. IF the country is so scary that 40 million people have the need to run here then WHY are people still going down there on vacations and buying homes down there? WHY DO you think WE are responsible for all those people??? ARE you saying open the borders and just let the WHOLE of Mexico come on in?? IF that is how you and some of the others on here feel then we need to INVADE that very dangerous and HOSTILE country right on our BORDER because they are an EXTREME THREAT to our country and national security. INVADE them, wipe out the CARTELS, imprison the corrupt politicians and make Mexico a part of America. THEN everyone can feel safe and go live wherever they please. The people would all pay taxes which by the way they do NOT now and we could use all their beautiful natural resources down there.

            Build industry and FARM lots of food for everyone and all be one BIG HAPPY FAMILY!!! This would be better than having them coming across ILLEGALLY, getting all the freebies, NOT having to register to vote but still being allowed to vote and a lot of other problems we have right now. We could then GO AFTER M13 gangs and Cartels and end all this FIGHTING and ARGUING. Make Mexico SAFE for everyone and safer for us as well because with 40 million of them coming here and bringing all the DRUGS, TRAFFICKERS, DISEASES and God knows what else we SOON will not even be safe in this country and will end up in a WAR here instead of there. That is the SOLUTION right there. YEP.

          • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 7:22 pm

            What country are you referring to, Faye?

        • jaybird June 18, 2018 at 12:59 pm

          Explaining anything of value to people like you is an example of casting pearls to swine. You want to stay in your ignorant bubble. This is a Trump policy, NOT a law, certainly doesnt rise to the level of taking kids away. If you have ever committed a misdemeanor, or your kids have, imagine being put away for that and your family not knowing wnere.

          • John June 18, 2018 at 1:53 pm

            IRAIRA is the law jailbird, and it’s been going on since the days of George Bush the first.. Clinton used it, Obama used it and Trump is just allowing the pre-existing laws to be enforced. Take your uninformed little mind back to the library you clueless felon!

          • jaybird June 18, 2018 at 6:12 pm

            Sorry john, no law, policy built around changes Trump/sessions put together.

          • John June 18, 2018 at 7:03 pm

            YES MORON, IT IS A LAW,,That’s why it’s being enforced,, jeesh your’e an idiot!

          • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 7:38 pm

            Its sad but not shocking that John doesn’t understand executive discretion when it comes to federal law. You would think it would be obvious when the Trump administration constantly refers to zeri tolerance but some folks like him just lack a basic understanding of civics and law.

            And its not like Trump and his administration tried to hide it. Sessions openly talked about how the new policy would lead to family separations:

            “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law … If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.


            We don’t want to separate families, but we don’t want families to enter the border illegally[.] We urge them not to do so.”

            The keyword is “prosecute”. Its ironic that folks like John are buying Trump’s political spin (not shocking considering he and Bannon always manipulated his base) despite years of these same folks complaining about Obama’s policy of “catch and release”. I mean which is, did Obama separate all/most families (required when criminally prosecuting these parents) or did he “catch and release”. We know the answer but the liars are out in full force practicing double speak.

            You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Everyone but his diehard base knows this is a classic “Trumpster Fire”.

      • ladybugavenger June 18, 2018 at 4:37 pm

        Children being taken away are children being taken away, they why doesn’t even matter.

        My point is this story is to bleed the hearts. Are your hearts bleeding for the children of parents that did not get to spend fathers day together here in the USA? Probably not since it’s not a news story.

        Dont come here illegally. You and I have to obey the US laws or face consequences, so do they!!!!

        • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 5:11 pm

          You really don’t believe the “why” matters when it comes to separating children from their families? You sincerely lack the ability to see the difference in removing children from dangerous homes and separating kids in a way that harms them? I mean wow.

          My heart is not bleeding; nice try with an old jab at liberals but its warn out. I am informed by such stories. I do value humane treatment. I do value treating those seeking asylum with compassion and care.

          I don’t know about you, but I have the ability to care about multiple issues at once, including other children with broken homes.

          The “law and order” campaign slogan is worn out. We now see the details of Trump’s policy on illegal immigration and its clearly inhumane. We are also seeing how his “base” like you are willing to ignore his mishandling of the situation and justify it away. The good news is traditional conservatives are calling Trump out for his hideous policy.

          Its a shame I have higher expectations for your own values and preferences than you do yourself. I always find it ironic when agnostic citizens like me are more christian than self-proclaimed Christians like yourself. At some point I hope you realize this new zero-tolerance policy isn’t the only option for enforcing the law and that there are other options that are humane and legal at the same time. Glad to see other Christians are recognizing that and calling folks like you out.

          • ladybugavenger June 19, 2018 at 6:05 pm

            Why do you judge me and your expectations of me? And not illegals? You defend illegals and judge me…..hmmmmm you make me chuckle

          • ladybugavenger June 19, 2018 at 6:06 pm

            Good thing you’re not God. You would cast me to hell

          • ladybugavenger June 19, 2018 at 6:09 pm

            In your judgment it appears I disgust you and shame you.

          • ladybugavenger June 19, 2018 at 6:13 pm

            And your judgment towards me is based on my belief in God.

            Interesting isn’t it.

            I feel pretty good about you, an atheist, judging me on my belief that Jesus died, rose again the 3rd day, and sits at the right hand side of the Father.

            It is written that you, an atheist, would do and say such things.

          • bikeandfish June 19, 2018 at 9:39 pm

            You always deflect from the substance with something irrelevant. No one is questioning the Christian doctrine about Jesus rising again. What I am highlighting is your utter lack of the understanding of Christianity in general and the selfish way in which you apply the gospel.

            If you don’t understand how the teachings of Christ challenge you to be against the creation of a humanitarian crisis than you clearly don’t understand Christianity or the Bible. But you superficial concept of Christianity has been evident for a while.

            PS… i judge people based on their consistency and integrity to their own stated morals hence accurately calling out your hypocrisy. Why do you think I call out Ed K for his name calling or Hyde for his intellectual dishonesty or laziness? Because they each self promote a standard that they openly step all over. If you don’t want to be judged for your failures to act according to Christian standards then maybe stop promoting yourself as a Christian.

  • comments June 17, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    Yes, it’s bad. But is the solution to just open the floodgates and let more of the US become mexico, like we’ve already seen with huge swaths of this country?

    • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 10:35 am

      Most of these asylum seeking families are not from Mexico. The meme you are spreading is false. And there are other options to dealing with Asylum serkers with dignity and humanity that still account for immigration reform. But Trump made the situation worse with his ridiculous actions and xenophobic foreign policy.

      • Real Life June 18, 2018 at 12:10 pm

        You cannot deny the financial burden that these illegals put on us.

        • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 12:32 pm

          Never said there wasn’t a financial burden from immigrants trying to cross the border illegally. Its a red herring. The issue is how do we act with American interest at heart while also remaining humane and civil. The current policy doesn’t satisfy those variables nor our basic ethics and values as a country. There is a reason Trump is losing support amongst “both sides” of the aisle on this choice.

          • comments June 18, 2018 at 2:31 pm

            More birth control and more abortions are what is needed. 3rd-worlders breeding like cockroaches is not making a better world. My right-wing nutter/loon friends may disagree(purely based on their religious/ideological nuttery), but there comes a time when you’ve got to be pragmatic. If I wanted to live in mexico or some S. american s-hole I’d move there myself. Don’t need them bring it to me by coming here.

    • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      Here is a mini-doc on part of the issue. Mexico is actually doing as much, if not more, deportation of these migrants as the US.

      Human history shows people will hemorrhage out of unsafe and dangerous countries without regard to political bandaids to stop them from entering safer ones. The world is seeing massive diasporas right now in this regard. And to make it worse, we have been directly and indirectly involved in the national equations causing those migration emergencies.

      So the question we should all be asking, no matter the ideology, is how do we solve this in a systematic manner? “Closing” borders and enforcing the law is not a solution as is doesn’t stop the massive migrations we are seeing. As the documentary exposes it only put a dent in the numbers for a year or two. But all we are doing is a cat and mouse game which always kicks the can down the road.

    • Faye June 18, 2018 at 7:37 pm

      Exactly right.

  • Rafiki June 17, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    Sad!!! I’ve been wondering when this would start to happen and become public. You start rounding up people ‘who don’t belong’ and you’ll have to hold them somewhere.

    I imagine it’s a logistical nightmare figuring where to drop these ‘problem people’ off at. I imagine Mexico’s not too stoked to have a bus load of Guatemalans dropped off ‘illegally’

    I hope we as a county do this right ‘since it appears we’re doing it’ and not decide ovens and mass graves aren’t the “easy cheap way”

    Dig deep in your pockets people as housing people ‘waiting for deportation’ isn’t cheap!!!

  • Kilroywashere June 17, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    There must be rule of law. Likewise if the “do nothing” Congress over the last 20 years had done their job we would have had a viable immigration system. First and foremost we need to secure the border, not 50%, not 90%, but 99.9%. That would back this up into Mexico. Then Mexico would have to reform their immigration structure. Next, we need to hold Central American Governments accountable, and supply foreign aid that will not be ripped off by corruption, with accountable strings attached to help these folks in their own countries. Lastly , employers that higher illegal immigrants need to see jail time and stiff penalties. End of story. Not hard, just requires political will.

    • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      I am for immigration reform.

      The problem is how do we “secure” a border that is physically 1,900 miles long with Mexico and 1,500 miles with Canada? I ask as immigrants and entrepreneurs have shown immense ingenuity here and abroad of circumventing barriers and patrols. Both make a dent but nowhere near 99.9% success rates. And our current capture rates, also historically high under Obama, include heavy enforcement on Mexico’s southern border, heavily funded by the US.

      And I emphasize the physical border because the principle element of illegal immigration is legal immigrants overstaying their legal limits, ie not affected by policy about the border.

      And we could penalize employers more severely but that ignores the entire industry built around fabricating paperwork. Should employers be responsible for those faking legal citizenship or residency? For more than a decade most employers have had to go through serious measures to prove employees are legally allowed to be employed and that is not clearly enough. I know first hand how much time is spent on paperwork and checks during initial hiring. But I only had the ability and training to require documentation; the rest is up to the feds to verify and enforce.

      Nor does that include the vast benefit the workers who are here illegally provide to other industries, ie agriculture, food service, etc that are often the focus of raids and enforcement because of loopholes and practices. Their role in propping up entire that are critical to our country isn’t exaggerated. The fact is most Americans, not all, have no desire to work those jobs. But rely upon them nonetheless.

      Until we get past the talking points we will never create meaningful immigration reform. Neither “side” has chosen to work on the issue with the other “side”. I think this is partially true because its easier, and politically beneficial, to blame the majority party when they are the minority than to truly account for the complex variables that don’t align with any one ideology. We need to get past our country’s desire for simple rhetoric and solutions and sit down at a table together to find long term policy.

  • Brian June 18, 2018 at 12:14 am

    This policy isn’t new and went on during the Obama administration:

    However, the Obama administration intentionally put children in harms way for political purposes by literally advertising in 3rd world countries drumming up people to come en masse and create a wave of migrant children. They intentionally put thousands of children children in harms way to create the DACA problem for political purposes.

    I’m not a Trump fan, but I am a fan of securing our borders, and if people know they’ll be separated from their children when they get here and both will be sent back to their countries they’ll be far less likely to come. When that happens 100% of the adults should be fingerprinted and have blood drawn, and if they get caught again its a felony and they should be banned for life from citizenship or working in the US. We have to enforce our own laws and secure our own borders, otherwise we’ll just turn into Europe. Europe has been “fundamentally changed” forever due to unchecked immigration. To do the same here would be to disenfranchise the 330 million already here.

    Also, asylum at a national level is given to people that have no safe haven in their own country due to country-wide issues such as ethnic cleansing. Highly localized things like domestic violence do not qualify and never have (though I’m sure it has been used and misused to get people here). If someone in Detroit is a victim of domestic violence they can be safe by going to Ohio; they don’t need to go to Canada.

    America can’t simply open its borders to everyone in the world who lives in poverty or danger. The math simply doesn’t work. When the Titanic sank each lifeboat was constrained by the laws of physics to only hold so many people. One more than that and everyone drown and froze to death together. The same is just as true for America, it just happens far slower (and its the laws of economics, etc, rather than physics). Turning America into a 3rd world country will not solve the worlds problems.

    So while this story IS sad, and while these kids deserve to be treated humanely, the truth is the media is using this story to push an agenda. Democrats are using this story to push an agenda. When the exact same thing was happening under their guy they actively suppressed it. What happened to “for the children”? It’s all hot air, that’s what.

    • Gcia June 18, 2018 at 5:40 am

      Well said.

      Going along with your titanic reference, the cowardess man who wanted on a lifeboat so badly that he used a child to do so, is no different than the parents who are using their children to enter our country illegally. They have to make an example of these people, to deter others from doing the same.

    • Nope June 18, 2018 at 7:27 am

      That is not a legitimate source. It has been proven to have oriniginated from a fake conspiracy site.

      • statusquo June 18, 2018 at 8:03 am

        Fake News?

      • statusquo June 18, 2018 at 8:05 am

        This whole story about detained children is fake news. There is no proof that this is really happening.

        • Nope June 18, 2018 at 9:09 am

          Yes, the article linked above about this policy occuring under Obama has been proven to be fake.

          • John June 18, 2018 at 1:50 pm

            Do a little research and you will find that this has been going on since George Bush the first .. Nothing new here. Clinton did it, Obama did it, and Trump is just allowing the same laws to be enforced.

        • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 12:34 pm

          The current story about separation is true and verified by every reputable journalist. The attempt to label it fake news is subterfuge and an example of the “swamp” at work.

    • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 10:24 am

      The ZeroHedge story is bogus, as most of theirs are. That said, Obama was no saint when it comes to immigration. He and the Republican congress failed to address the asylum crisis in a meaningful manner. But Trump has escalated the problem. And in reality, despite how those on the right are spinning this, these kids are likely here to stay, ie the parents partially succeeded. These kids are normally put into foster care, though it takes ages of living in cages under mylar blankets to get through the growing backlog.

      The reality us this is no way to solve the problem. These families will keep coming because of how hideous the problem is for many of them. And until we address this humanely and systematically its only going to get worse. And remember, our hands are dirty given our foreign policy in Central America through history.

  • No Filter June 18, 2018 at 8:23 am

    They should put giant video screens of Trump and his goons talking on Fox News on the border facing south, I bet that would make people turn around and say screw this country I don’t want to live in Russia.

  • RadRabbit June 18, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Story is a load of political garbage. If you come here illegally you should be sent back.

  • John June 18, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Democrats need to step up to fix the problem and quit dodging the real issue..
    Clinton Regime Outdoes Itself by Snatching Elian Gonzalez

    • No Filter June 18, 2018 at 3:22 pm

      Still can’t figure out how this is the democrats fault right now. Republicans have control of the whole government and they still cant pass a bill on anything, except the tax bill. Nearly 2 years have gone by, so when are they actually going to do any kind of work? By the way Lumpy, Clinton isn’t the president, so why do you keep blaming her and her husband for everything? Why don’t you blame Jimmy Carter, he is still alive too!

      • John June 18, 2018 at 5:38 pm

        You can’t figure out how to get your cognitive reasoning working either. That’s why you are a PUTZ ! Democrats are obstructing that’s why moron!

    • Chris June 18, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      You sound every bit as stupid as Trump himself. Republicans control both houses of Congress and have the power to fix this without any Democratic assistance. It is the Republicans who are dodging it, and Trump is hoping a few Democrats may come to his rescue.

      • John June 18, 2018 at 5:39 pm

        hahahahahaha! Liberals are STUPID!

      • John June 18, 2018 at 9:55 pm

        Hey chris! How’s that unicorn you got from bernie working out for you? You guys keep on losing and getting back up! hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

  • Carpe Diem June 18, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    This is a problem stretching back forever and each POTUS has spoken aggressively on how to handle it (yes Obama too). We need to build the wall, if these detention centers arent going to be a deterrent.

  • jaybird June 18, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    If this site is a snapshot of Utahn values, count me out. If the cries of those immigrant children dont spoil your dinner, there is no grace in you. You deserve the bad Karma coming for you.

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