Almost 70,000 migrant children were detained in custody by border officials in 2019, a 42 per cent increase on the previous year.
New government data obtained by Associated Press reveal that 69,550 migrant children held in U.S. government custody over the past year - enough infants, toddlers, kids and teens to overflow the typical NFL stadium.
There are now more children detained away from their parents in the U.S. than in any other country, according to United Nations researchers.
The detentions are happening even though the U.S. government has acknowledged that being held in detention can be traumatic for children, putting them at risk of long-term physical and emotional damage.
Some migrant children who were in government custody this year have already been deported.
Some have reunited with family in the U.S., where they're trying to go to school and piece their lives back together. About 4,000 are still in government custody and some are being placed in large, impersonal shelters.
The 69,550 migrant children who were held in government custody this year - up 42 percent in fiscal year 2019 from 2018 - spent more time in shelters and away from their families than in prior years.
The Trump administration's series of strict immigration policies has increased the time children spend in detention, despite the government's own acknowledgment that it does them harm.
In 2013, Australia detained 2,000 children during a surge of maritime arrivals. In Canada, immigrant children are separated from their parents only as a last resort; 155 were detained in 2018.