The New York Times is reporting that the humanitarian crisis on the border goes well beyond the family separation policy. “Population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer, according to data obtained by The New York Times, reaching a total of 12,800 this month,” the newspaper reports.
Most of those being held crossed the border by themselves and normally would be reunited with family already in America. But because increased bureaucracy and tighter rules are scaring away relatives, they are being detained for longer periods. A bottleneck in the system has caused the numbers being detained to skyrocket.
According to the newspaper, “The separated children injected a new degree of chaos into the facilities, according to several shelter operators, who spoke anonymously because they are barred by the government from speaking to the news media. The children were younger and more traumatized than those the shelters were used to dealing with, and they arrived without a plan for when they could be released or to whom.”
The shelter system is currently at 90 percent capacity. To deal with the burgeoning numbers, the administration is building a “tent city” in Tornillo, Texas, that could house as many as 3,800 children. Any surge in the number of border crossings could easily overwhelm the system and create chaos.
It’s unclear whether the Trump administration has any solution to the problem they’ve created. As Times observes, “the longer children are detained, the more anxious and depressed they are likely to become, according to [Mark Greenberg], who oversaw the program under Mr. Obama. When that happens, children may try to harm themselves or escape, and can become violent with the staff and with one another, he said.” There is evidence this is already happening.