Report: Immigrant Babies, Toddlers Held in ‘Tender Age’ Shelters

The Trump administration has been sending immigrant toddlers and babies forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S. border to at least three “tender age” shelters in Texas—and there are plans to open a fourth facility in Houston, the Associated Press reports. Lawyers and medical providers who’ve visited the shelters told the AP they are full of hysterical preschool-aged children. The three centers—in Combes, Raymondville, and Brownsville—are meant to accommodate younger children, some under the age of 5, though there were no details available on the age breakdown of each facility. Experts say the shelters show the Trump administration essentially reviving a child-welfare system—orphanages—that was ended decades ago due to concerns about emotional trauma for children. Alicia Lieberman, who runs the Early Trauma Treatment Network at University of California, San Francisco, told the AP the shelters could leave children permanently scarred emotionally. “Children are biologically programmed to grow best in the care of a parent figure. When that bond is broken through long and unexpected separations with no set timeline for reunion, children respond at the deepest physiological and emotional levels,” she said.