Where are the beds? Questions surround Trump's plan to hold families in detention

(Reuters) - One child stopped eating and fell into a depression. Another who could previously walk on his own now asks his mother to carry him everywhere. A third child started biting other children.

These are the experiences of children who have spent just three weeks at a temporary family immigration detention at the South Texas Family Detention Center in Dilley, Texas, attorneys and volunteers who work at the center told Reuters.

SEE ALSO: Pentagon to house 20,000 migrant children on military bases

The Dilley site is one of only three in the United States designed to hold parents and children together in immigration detention. Some of those who have visited the center say such cases illustrate the emotional problems that can arise from holding families in detention.

"No child or family unit with a child should ever be in detention," said Alan Shapiro, co-founder of Terra Firma, which promotes immigrant children's health. He said he has seen children at several facilities show developmental delays and become anxious and withdrawn.

The Dilley facility has playrooms, indoor gym equipment, toys, books and other amenities to provide "a safe and appropriate environment" for immigrant mothers and children, said Amanda Gilchrist, a spokeswoman for private prison company CoreCivic.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which provides medical and mental health care at Dilley, said they take "very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care."

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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
Raymondville, UNITED STATES: A futuristic USD 65 million tent city designed to hold about 2,000 illegal immigrants is pictured 10 April 2006 in Raymondville, Texas. The newly-constructed barbed-wire enclosed camp in the Rio Grande Valley will hold illegal immigrants for weeks to years until they can be returned to their home countires by US officials. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. Picture taken June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The inside of a dormitory at the Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, walk in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents by the Department of Homeland Security next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Wednesday aimed at ending his controversial policy of separating children from parents caught entering the country illegally. Under the order, which is likely to be challenged in court, families will now be detained together for the duration of their criminal and immigration proceedings. The latter can take months or even years to complete.

Holding families indefinitely could create a new logistical headache for the Trump administration. Immigrant families are currently housed in facilities in Pennsylvania and Texas that have a total capacity of about 3,300 beds, according to ICE. Those are now at 79 percent capacity, ICE said.

Given the numbers of families crossing the border illegally, the government will quickly run out of beds at those facilities, the only ones in the country set up to house families. Last month, U.S. Border Patrol arrested more than 9,400 family members crossing the southern border illegally.

(For a graphic of current family detention facilities, click here: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Ia5W3y)

Wednesday's order directs the Pentagon to "take all legally available measures" to provide facilities available to house immigrant families, including constructing new facilities if necessary.

The Department of Health and Human Services has already completed assessments of three facilities in Texas - Fort Bliss, Goodfellow Air Force base, and Dyess Air Force base - as potential areas to house migrants. It was due to carry out a formal assessment of Little Rock Air Force base in Jacksonville, Arkansas on Thursday, said Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

For graphic on ICE family detention population, click: https://tmsnrt.rs/2K16GxG

DANGERS OF RUSHING

Michelle Brané of the Women's Refugee Commission, a New York based advocacy group, said that while the Texas and Pennsylvania facilities are not currently full, "if they do start sending everybody there, they will fill up."

She said temporary facilities could be set up at military bases "fairly quickly" but noted that a previous attempt by the Obama administration to rush the construction of a family detention center had resulted in a facility that was "not even close to being compliant" with child standards.

It could take up to three months for the government or its private sector contractors to build proper facilities that are safe, healthy and provide necessary services to detained families, said Daniel Stageman, a scholar on immigration detention at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

A spokeswoman for GEO Group, which operates the Karnes family detention center in Texas, said their company works to "provide a safe and humane environment for those in our care."

The executive director of the Berks County Residential Center, the family detention center in Pennsylvania, did not respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys and medical professionals who have spent time at such facilities say even short-term detention can traumatize vulnerable children.

A 2016 report by a Department of Homeland Security advisory committee strongly recommended the government discontinue the "general use" of family detention, citing insufficient access to legal counsel, medical and mental health care.

A June 2017 DHS inspector general's report, however, found that the family detention facilities were "clean, well-organized, and efficiently run," based on unannounced spot inspections in July 2016.

Attorney Katy Murdza, an attorney who volunteers five days a week at Dilley, said the mental strains of detention were already apparent among families who had been detained at the facility for the past three weeks.

"We see 2-year olds picking up phones from the wall and saying, 'Dad? Dad?' They see a male guard and ask where their dad is," she said.

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Melania Trump visits border detention facility
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Melania Trump visits border detention facility
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: U.S. first lady Melania Trump arrives at McAllen Miller International Airport to attend a round table discussion with doctors and social workers at the Upbring New Hope Childrens Center operated by Lutheran Social Services of the South and contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The first lady traveled to Texas to see first hand the condition and treatment that migrant children taken from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border are receiving from the federal government. Following public outcry and criticism from members of his own party, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to stop the separation of migrant children from their families, a practice the administration employed to deter illegal immigration at the border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: U.S. first lady Melania Trump arrives at McAllen Miller International Airport to attend a round table discussion with doctors and social workers at the Upbring New Hope Childrens Center operated by Lutheran Social Services of the South and contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The first lady traveled to Texas to see first hand the condition and treatment that migrant children taken from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border are receiving from the federal government. Following public outcry and criticism from members of his own party, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to stop the separation of migrant children from their families, a practice the administration employed to deter illegal immigration at the border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump takes part in a roundtable discussion at Luthern Social Services of the South's Upbring New Hope Children Center in McAllen, Texas on June 21, 2018. - First Lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to the US-Mexican border on Thursday, June 21, 2018 as her husband's administration seeks to quell a firestorm over migrant family separations. President Donald Trump first announced the trip by his wife, who will tour a non-profit social services center for migrant children, as well as a customs and border patrol processing center, according to a statement from her office. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: U.S. first lady Melania Trump walks through the facility with program director Rogelio de la Cerda Jr. after a round table discussion with doctors and social workers at the Upbring New Hope Childrens Center operated by Lutheran Social Services of the South and contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The first lady traveled to Texas to see first hand the condition and treatment that migrant children taken from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border are receiving from the federal government. Following public outcry and criticism from members of his own party, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to stop the separation of migrant children from their families, a practice the administration employed to deter illegal immigration at the border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump takes part in a roundtable discussion at Luthern Social Services of the South's Upbring New Hope Children Center in McAllen, Texas on June 21, 2018. - First Lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to the US-Mexican border on Thursday, June 21, 2018 as her husband's administration seeks to quell a firestorm over migrant family separations. President Donald Trump first announced the trip by his wife, who will tour a non-profit social services center for migrant children, as well as a customs and border patrol processing center, according to a statement from her office. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: U.S. first lady Melania Trump walks through the facility after a round table discussion with doctors and social workers at the Upbring New Hope Childrens Center operated by Lutheran Social Services of the South and contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The first lady traveled to Texas to see first hand the condition and treatment that migrant children taken from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border are receiving from the federal government. Following public outcry and criticism from members of his own party, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to stop the separation of migrant children from their families, a practice the administration employed to deter illegal immigration at the border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump takes part in a roundtable discussion at Luthern Social Services of the South's Upbring New Hope Children Center in McAllen, Texas on June 21, 2018. - First Lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to the US-Mexican border on Thursday, June 21, 2018 as her husband's administration seeks to quell a firestorm over migrant family separations. President Donald Trump first announced the trip by his wife, who will tour a non-profit social services center for migrant children, as well as a customs and border patrol processing center, according to a statement from her office. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: U.S. first lady Melania Trump walks through the facility after a round table discussion with doctors and social workers at the Upbring New Hope Childrens Center operated by Lutheran Social Services of the South and contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The first lady traveled to Texas to see first hand the condition and treatment that migrant children taken from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border are receiving from the federal government. Following public outcry and criticism from members of his own party, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to stop the separation of migrant children from their families, a practice the administration employed to deter illegal immigration at the border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: U.S. first lady Melania Trump participates in a round table discussion with doctors and social workers at the Upbring New Hope Childrens Center operated by Lutheran Social Services of the South and contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The first lady traveled to Texas to see first hand the condition and treatment that migrant children taken from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border are receiving from the federal government. Following public outcry and criticism from members of his own party, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to stop the separation of migrant children from their families, a practice the administration employed to deter illegal immigration at the border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: U.S. first lady Melania Trump walks through the facility after a round table discussion with doctors and social workers at the Upbring New Hope Childrens Center operated by Lutheran Social Services of the South and contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The first lady traveled to Texas to see first hand the condition and treatment that migrant children taken from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border are receiving from the federal government. Following public outcry and criticism from members of his own party, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to stop the separation of migrant children from their families, a practice the administration employed to deter illegal immigration at the border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: U.S. first lady Melania Trump participates in a round table discussion with doctors and social workers at the Upbring New Hope Childrens Center operated by Lutheran Social Services of the South and contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The first lady traveled to Texas to see first hand the condition and treatment that migrant children taken from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border are receiving from the federal government. Following public outcry and criticism from members of his own party, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to stop the separation of migrant children from their families, a practice the administration employed to deter illegal immigration at the border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: U.S. first lady Melania Trump participates in a round table discussion with doctors and social workers at the Upbring New Hope Childrens Center operated by Lutheran Social Services of the South and contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The first lady traveled to Texas to see first hand the condition and treatment that migrant children taken from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border are receiving from the federal government. Following public outcry and criticism from members of his own party, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to stop the separation of migrant children from their families, a practice the administration employed to deter illegal immigration at the border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 21: U.S. first lady Melania Trump participates in a round table discussion with doctors and social workers at the Upbring New Hope Childrens Center operated by Lutheran Social Services of the South and contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The first lady traveled to Texas to see first hand the condition and treatment that migrant children taken from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border are receiving from the federal government. Following public outcry and criticism from members of his own party, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to stop the separation of migrant children from their families, a practice the administration employed to deter illegal immigration at the border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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(Reporting by Reade Levinson in New York, Yeganeh Torbati in Washington, and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco. Additional reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington.; Editing by Ross Colvin)

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