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  • Writer's pictureMary Jensen

Are you outraged? Tender Age Shelters and Tent Cities for Children

Have you been watching the news this week? Are you outraged by the new zero tolerance immigration policy? It breaks my heart to see the images of children locked up like prisoners. It is disturbing to hear the audio that was released earlier this week by ProPublica. If you are not bothered by any of this, perhaps you should read something else. Personally, I have a hard time listening to that audio without losing my composure.

(Photo: Rebecca Plevin, Palm Springs Dessert Sun)

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not a supporter of this administration. I do not like one single thing this president stands for or what he has done. But this, this is beyond my comprehension. Surely there are better ways to have handled this. At the very least, upon initiating this zero tolerance policy, the administration could have told ICE, Border Patrol, DHS, and HHS that they would need to make some preparations. At the very least, they could have planned to care for these kids and their needs. Instead, we have hundreds of kids in tents. IN TENTS!

"Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new 'zero tolerance' policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas" ( REUTERS/Mike Blake )

“Where are the girls and babies?”

As we learn more about this story, one question keeps being asked with no real answer, “Where are the girls and babies?” Late last night, the Associated Press reported on part of the answer. The headline read, Youngest Migrants held in ‘tender age’ shelters. According to the report, there are three ‘Tender Age’ shelters along the southern border of Texas and the government has a plan to open a fourth in Houston, Texas. In this report they suggest that while the facilities are clean and safe, the children are in distress.

The big question is how does this get fixed? How will we reunite these kids with their families? In some cases, their parents have been or are in the process of being deported without their children. To me, that is unacceptable. How do we correct this broken reunification system?

I understand that there should be immigration laws in our country. I agree there should be a process to vet people who claim they are seeking asylum. Should separating parents from children be part of that process? If so, how do we ensure that the kids have all of the care they need? This goes beyond food and shelter. These kids should be allowed, no, encouraged to have contact with their parents. Better yet, is there not some way to humanly keep the families together? Wouldn’t that make more sense? Take the humanity out of the equation and consider the logistics of this? Would it not be less expensive to house families together instead of detaining them separately, then sending the children off to shelters and foster care?

The individual stories are heartbreaking

I am outraged! I feel powerless! The images of the children are hard to see, the audio of the babies crying is difficult to hear. The individual stories are heartbreaking. We as a nation, must do better than this. We are better than this!

Information on ways you can help these families:

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