TORNILLO, Texas - ABC-7 Reporter Saul Saenz got our first look at the shelter for immigrant children at the port of entry in Tornillo, Texas.
A federal official said Thursday the shelter could accommodate up to 360 children. It is unclear if the children seen outside the shelter were separated from their undocumented parents at the border.
Saul reports the children seen playing outside were taken inside the facility as soon as officials noticed ABC-7’s cameras were rolling.
The Department of Homeland Security announced Friday that in the past two months, nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the border. Those children are now being held by federal authorities.
From April 19, 2018 through May 31, 2018, 1,995 minors who looked to illegally cross the U.S. border with 1,940 "alleged adult guardians" are now being held by the Border Patrol.
A DHS official told ABC News reports that a border agent took a child from a mother's arms while the child was breastfeeding are "false."
"We do not separate breastfeeding children from their parents," that is a "bright line" that DHS does not cross, the official told ABC News.
The officials said DHS works "as much as possible" to help children stay in touch with their parents, but acknowledged parents "are in jail settings" so communication "may be limited" because it is "at the discretion of the facility," as would be the case in any criminal case across the country.
As for reports suggesting U.S. officials are turning away asylum seekers at the border and not allowing those travelers to make claims, the DHS officials told ABC News "That's not true at all, that has not happened. Anyone who enters the country and makes a claim for asylum will see their day in court, they will have their claim heard."
The official further stated: "Fundamentally, with the 100 percent prosecution policy we are left with the choice of whether to enforce the law at the border or to allow individuals who enter the country with children … to go free and not face consequences for their illegal action. ... Advocates want us to ignore the law and to give people with families a free pass. They want illegal aliens to get better rights than U.S. citizens have. Every day in America, if you commit a crime, you will be separated from your family as you are prosecuted and face the consequences of that criminal conduct."