Look Inside The Largest Government-Contracted Youth Shelter In The Country

In March of 2017, an old Walmart Super Center in Brownsville, Texas was converted into a shelter for immigrant children.

Opened by the Texas-based nonprofit Southwest Key, the 250,000-square-foot facility is now the temporary home of 1,469 immigrant boys.

Earlier this month, officials refused to let U.S. Senator Jeff Markley (D-Ore.) into the shelter when he questioned if the children were being properly cared for.

But on Wednesday, the shelter doors were opened to reporters who got a guided tour inside a facility. 

Reporters were not allowed to take pictures or videos, or even speak to any of the staff members or children in the shelter.

The Department of Health and Human Services later released their own photos to the media, after the tour.

Inside the shelter, children were spending time in recreation rooms playing games, where they're allowed to spend at least two hours a day. That free-time increases to three hours on the weekends.

The facility also holds a cafeteria, hair salon, a medical clinic and even make-shift classrooms where the kids spend six hours a day in class.

In the hallways are murals of American presidents. The biggest mural -- a picture of Trump and quote from his book, The Art of the Deal.

"We don't want kids to be separated from their parents," House Speaker Paul Ryan told the Associated Press.

When each kid arrives to the facility, they're assigned a caseworker who tries to get in contact with the parents. If they can't reach a relative, they search for potential sponsors who could host them in the U.S.

"All the kids have been able to talk to their parents," said Jaime Garcia, the shelter's program director.

The average stay for each child is about 49 days. After their time in the shelter, they're sent over to family members or foster families.

The federal government is currently looking for additional facilities that can house more immigrant youths that come across the border seeking freedom and asylum. 

As of now, the Texas shelter only has room for 28 more children. 

Photos: The Department of Health and Human Services.

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