The Trump administration’s first tent city is reportedly preparing to hold more than 4,000 children, according to NBC. The children will sleep 20 to a tent as the temperatures in Tornillo, Texas — the site of the first tent city — climb, with an expected high Wednesday of 106 degrees.
Initial reports said the tent city at Tornillo Land Port of Entry would have 450 beds. Now, the shelter is expected to have nearly ten times as many children, and temperatures in the area are expected to reach 110 this summer.
Holding children at Army bases is not unprecedented. The Washington Post reported last month that the Trump administration was preparing to do so, and the Obama administration temporarily held migrant children at Army bases in tent cities in several states in 2014 after an influx of immigrants arrived in the United States.
But this time around, the government has created the problem for itself with the institution of its zero tolerance policy, which separates migrant families crossing the border illegally, whether or not they are seeking asylum. There have also been cases of some families being separated even when seeking asylum at an official port of entry.
Children separated from their families will be held in tent cities, a terrifying prospect made worse by the U.S. government’s track record of killing and endangering people held in camps similar to those in which they will begin holding migrant children.
According to a McClatchy report, HHS shelters are now reportedly more than 95 percent full and hold more than 10,000 immigrant children. Last Friday on a press call, Trump administration officials offered for the first time concrete numbers concerning the number of children who have been detained and separated from their parents in recent weeks: From April 19 through May 31, authorities have detained 1,995 minors traveling with 1,940 adults.
In 2015, the Phoenix New Times reported on the high death rates at former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent cities, which he called concentration camps. In his camps, from 1996 to 2015, 39 people died by suicide. An additional 34 were found death with no explanation given for the death while another 39 died at the county hospital without explanation.
An American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) lawyer recently drew parallels to internment camps where Japanese Americans were held during World War II and Native American children who were separated from their families.
“We’re still talking about children,” Carl Takei, the lawyer, told Splinter. “That’s the bottom line.”
In 2007, The Washington Post reported that migrants held in a Raymondville, Texas facility were confined for 23 hours a day in “windowless tents made of Kevlar-like material” often without necessary food, water, and medical care. They were also cut off from access to telephones and many were cut off from access to their lawyers.
On Wednesday night, the AP reported that migrants would once again be held in Raymondville, this time, however, it will be “tender age” migrants under the age of 13 who have been separated from their parents. That includes babies and toddlers.
The news about the tent cities comes just days after ProPublica released audio of young children being held by the government crying and calling for their parents as a Border Patrol agent joked that they had “an orchestra here.”