The large number of detainees is the result of fewer children being released into the custody of guardians or sponsors thanks to a rule issued by the Trump administration in June stating that sponsors must be fingerprinted in order to have a child released into their care, and that their information has to then be shared with immigration officials.
On Wednesday, Jorge Barón, the executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, joined Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear to discuss the current immigration situation.
"The reason that we're ending up in a situation with having a record number of children in custody is because of this policy," Barón told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.
"We are working with a community member here locally who was detained precisely that way. He was a family member of a child, and they made the decision of coming forward and going through all of the paperwork. He was placed in deportation proceedings because he agreed to come forward."
"I'm also working with a family locally here in the Seattle area who has a child actually at the Tornillo [Texas] camp, and the parents are undocumented, and they are concerned about coming forward. They ultimately made the decision to [go] ahead and do the fingerprint even though they knew there was a risk," Barón continued.
"It [the policy] puts people in this catch-22 of you might come forward to claim your child or relative, but then that might mean you might be separated later on, because you might be detained by immigration," Barón added.
Satellite photos revealed that the number of US immigrant detention tents for children in the state of Texas increased fourfold in less than three months, Human Rights Watch said in a press release on Wednesday.
"The image from September 13, 2018, shows that since June 19, the date of a previous satellite image, the number of tent shelters has nearly quadrupled, from 28 to 101 tents," the release said. "At a reported capacity of 20 children per tent, the tent city can currently house 2,020 children."
"[The Trump administration] implemented this policy without planning for how they were [going to] reunify families, and so it led to all kinds of abuses, with children being held in facilities for as long as 25 days when they are only supposed to be there for up to 72 hours," Barón told Radio Sputnik.
According to Barón, many of these children came into the US with their parents, who were seeking asylum and fleeing from "violently abusive situations."
"The president himself has made it clear in his public statements what he would like to see. He has said explicitly, ‘Why do we need judges? Why not just deport people?' This is contrary to morality and to our laws. We have created a process and ratified the refugee convention that says we are going to protect people. We have put into place asylum laws. [The Trump administration] is trying to undermine [the laws]. It is very concerning, and we hope everyone in the country will make their voices heard on this terrible policy this administration is trying to pursue," Barón added.
A total of nearly 12,800 immigrant children are currently being detained by the US government, a record-high figure spread across 100 federally contracted shelters that is five times higher than the number held in May 2017, according to a September report by the New York Times.