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Toddlers, babies held in 'tender age' facilities after separated from families, AP reports

Posted at 9:38 AM, Jun 20, 2018

Infants and young children are being held in three so-called "tender age" shelters at the border after being separated from their families who illegally crossed into the United States, The Associated Press reports.

The children are being sent to three centers in Combes, Raymondville and Brownsville in southern Texas, which have been repurposed to house the youngest migrants, including those younger than 5, The Associated Press reported Tuesday evening.

Another center is planned for Houston, The Associated Press reported.

The AP did not identify the unnamed "lawyers and medical providers" whose accounts of the facilities form the basis of the report.

CNN has reached out to Customs and Border Protection, Southwest Key Programs and the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the facilities for unaccompanied immigrant children, for comment on the AP's report.

Earlier this week, a US official with Customs and Border Protection would not address the circumstances of individual cases but said there were only a few reasons why children younger than 4 might be separated from adults at the border. The reasons include criminal history or an adult in the family who has a history of immigration violations like entering illegally or being deported before; evidence of abuse that would indicate that the child's safety is at risk; an inability to prove a guardian familial relationship; or insufficient detention space to accommodate a family unit where both parents are present.

The Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy against those crossing into the US illegally has resulted in a spike of family separations. At least 2,000 children have been separated from their parents since the policy went into effect earlier this year.