Photos obtained by the conservative website Breitbart are said to show dozens, perhaps hundreds, of young children packed side by side in a large concrete warehouse identified by the San Antonio Express-News as a U.S. Border Patrol holding station in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. The children are presumably part of the wave of unaccompanied minors now coming to the U.S. in unprecedented numbers as they flee violence and poverty in Central America.
President Obama last week called the trend an “urgent humanitarian situation” and asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate efforts to house and care for the children.
Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) said in a statement, “CBP has not officially released any photos at this time in order to protect the rights and privacy of unaccompanied minors in our care.”
CBP would not confirm or deny on the record the authenticity of the photos.
The photos, which Breitbart published Thursday, appear to have been taken in late May of this year.
They depict children and adults sitting and laying shoulder-to-shoulder in windowless rooms on hard floors. Some of the photos show portable toilets lined up in the corner of the holding rooms.
Many children are now making the trip north from Central American countries like Honduras and Guatemala, where poverty and violence have driven families away.
Domestic Policy Advisor Cecilia Muñoz told Fusion earlier this week that authorities are encountering 90 percent more children now than just a year ago, meaning there are likely tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors entering the country.
The administration has said addressing the rising flow of unaccompanied children crossing into the United States is an important priority.
Ted Hesson contributed reporting.
Fusion has blurred the faces of the people in the two photos included here to protect their privacy.
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.
Jorge Rivas is the national affairs correspondent at Fusion. He follows the national conversation through the lens of racial, sexual, and political identity.