Hundreds of migrant children in recent weeks have been moved from private foster homes or shelters to a tent city in south Texas, according to The New York Times.
The children were reportedly placed on buses in the middle of the night to move from shelters in locations ranging from New York to Kansas to the facility in Tornillo, Texas.
The children are now housed in groups of 20, sleeping in lines of bunk beds and receiving no schooling and minimal access to legal services, the newspaper reported, adding that in private shelters and foster homes, the children slept two or three to a room, received formal schooling and had regular visits with legal representatives.
The Times reported that the moves are part of a "mass reshuffling" of migrant children across the country as their numbers soared under President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE. Thousands of migrant families were separated earlier this year as a result of Trump's "zero-tolerance' immigration policy. The newspaper previously reported that the number of migrant children in federal custody has increased from 2,400 in May 2017 to a record 12,800 this month.
The facility in Tornillo reportedly opened in June with a 450-bed capacity and was scheduled to stay open for just 30 days. But it is now expected to stay open until at least the end of the year and now accommodates 3,800 beds.
“It is common to use influx shelters as done on military bases in the past, and the intent is to use these temporary facilities only as long as needed,” Evelyn Stauffer, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), told the Times.
Stauffer added that the mass influx of migrant children is the result of a "broken immigration system."
“The number of families and unaccompanied alien children apprehended are a symptom of the larger problem, namely a broken immigration system,” Stauffer said. “Their ages and the hazardous journey they take make unaccompanied alien children vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. That is why H.H.S. joins the president in calling on Congress to reform this broken system.”