What it’s like inside the former superstore in Texas where the US is holding 1,400 immigrant children
Brownsville, Texas (CNN) The strangeness of the largest migrant children’s center in the United States, near the border with Mexico, shows up in the details.
Here, there are 1,469 boys, ages 10 to 17, housed inside the 250,000-square-foot shell of a former Walmart superstore. None of the 313 bedrooms have doors. Or ceilings, so that children lying in their beds look up past where their walls end to the scaffolding of the superstore roof high above. The hundreds of children neatly lined up for their supper of barbecued chicken or sandwiches file past murals of presidents, including one of Donald Trump, alongside with a curious quote from him in Spanish alongside the English: “Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.”
On Wednesday, following a controversy over turning away Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, when he tried to visit the facility on June 3, the US government’s Office of Refugee Resettlement opened the Casa Padre shelter in Brownsville to a tightly controlled news media visit.
Merkley had sought to look into the conditions under which the shelter’s children, who either crossed into the United States unaccompanied or were separated from their parents at the border, are being held. He linked his concerns to the new “zero-tolerance” border policies announced last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling for taking away children and prosecuting parents who cross the border with them illegally. . .