MSNBC reporter: Detained immigrant children 'effectively incarcerated' in Texas facility

MSNBC reporter: Detained immigrant children 'effectively incarcerated' in Texas facility
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An MSNBC reporter said migrant children are effectively being "incarcerated" in a Texas facility where more than 1,400 migrant children are being held.

Jacob Soboroff was one of a number of reporters who toured the Brownsville facility on Wednesday. Soboroff said the center, which is a former Walmart, reminded him of a prison. 

“This place is called a 'shelter' but effectively these kids are incarcerated,” Soboroff said. 


Soboroff said on “All In With Chris Hayes” that the facility houses roughly 1,400 boys between ages 10 and 17. He compared the setup to a “dormitory structure,” noting that the building has a cafeteria area and rooms with four beds each.

The reporter posted a photo of a mural painted near an entrance that depicts President TrumpDonald John TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is 'clear abuse of presidential power' O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE in front of an American flag and the White House. 

Licensed professionals with the Office of Refugee Resettlement run the facility. Soboroff explained that kids are free to move around and are allotted two hours of outdoor time each day.

“It’s organized chaos in there. It’s hectic, but it is organized,” he said.

Reporters were allowed inside the facility less than two weeks after Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyThe border deal: What made it in, what got left out Lawmakers introduce bill to fund government, prevent shutdown Dems wary of killing off filibuster MORE (D-Ore.) shared a video showing him being barred from entering the same building.

Democrats and immigration advocates have expressed concern about the treatment of migrant children in the wake of the Trump administration's recently implemented "zero tolerance" for those who illegally cross the border.

The policy has faced intense scrutiny from critics, who call it cruel and blame it for overwhelming courts and U.S. attorneys' offices.

“This practice is antithetical not only to American values but to basic decency and humanity,” Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions last Friday.

Sessions announced last month that the Justice Department would aggressively prosecute adults attempting to cross the U.S.–Mexico border illegally — a process that often leads to children being separated from their parents upon being apprehended.

Authorities have separated families who cross illegally in some cases, placing children in separate holding facilities. The practice occurs before a parent is convicted and is carried out regardless of whether a migrant is seeking asylum.

Trump has blamed Democrats for enacting poor immigration laws amid outcry over the policy.

Other Trump administration officials, including Sessions and White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, have defended the policy as a deterrent against illegal immigration.