Employees at Casa Padre, a former Walmart that houses nearly 1,500 unaccompanied migrant children in Brownsville, Texas, called the police on Sen. Jeff Merkeley (D-Ore.) last month, but on Tuesday, MSNBC's Jacob Soboroff was given a tour of the facility. "I have been inside a federal prison and county jails," he said on Twitter afterward. "This place is called a shelter but these kids are incarcerated."
There are currently 1,469 boys age 10 to 17 housed in the facility, with up to 30 percent of them — or 440 children — among the new batch separated from their parents under President Trump's new "zero tolerance" border policy, Soboroff explained. "The thing that strikes me, as the parent of a 2 1/2-year-old boy, is what about from 0 to 10?" Soboroff told Chris Hayes on MSNBC Tuesday night. "Where are those kids?" There are 99 other facilities housing children in 17 states. These children are "allowed outside, Chris, where we are, in the fresh air, for two hours a day," he said. "And the rest, 22 hours a day, they're inside a former Walmart."
One of the strangest things about the facility, Soboroff said, is the mural of Trump you see right when you enter, with the quote, in both English and Spanish: "Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war."
Casa Padre is a licensed child-care facility run by the Texas nonprofit Southwest Key Programs (SKP), but the "tent cities" the Trump administration is envisioning won't have to be, Soboroff said. SKP runs facilities for unaccompanied child migrants in seven states and, according to a 2015 tax filing, CEO Juan Sanchez made $770,860 in annual "reportable compensation." You can read more of Soboroff's observations on Twitter.