What we know about immigrant children being separated from their parents

ABC News' Marcus Moore looks at the polarizing reactions to the children detained separately from their parents and housed at detention facilities.
8:32 | 06/19/18

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Transcript for What we know about immigrant children being separated from their parents
Reportet is acene many amers are suggling to make sense of. Chainlink fences,ages temporar holding more than 1,000 immigrants, my O them children here McAllen, Texas at the central progs center, one of america'sgest immigraon prsing facilities. Men,en, and children wrapped in Mylar blanketss a means to stay warm. This e-minute 34-second video Al with thesemages today released by. Borders and cus protection among the few imag we have that provide a pse into America's current immigration crisis currently folding Al the southern border. We just finis a tour inside the facili, and was -- it was Rea almost overwhelming. Yesterday I was part of a group of journalists ptted inside thatcenter. But our own ceras were not allowed. Ere was a lot of people, men ld in one part othe facility, boys in other seion, and then the were moms with their CN in another par of the facility. This is the center we were allowed to see. For many detainet is the firsstop after B apprended. Some families could B separ here or a another lity. It is image like these that how become a flash-point in the trump administration's zero tolerance policy, calling F parents a T children to be separated ithe parents have crossed the border gally. And now in a recording first obtained by propublica you can hear the despe sobbing of childrrom one day last week. Tell us how you got a hold of thisording that purports to be audio of kids being separated from their parents. You can listen to it and it's etty clear WHA it is. I know the whistleblower.the whistleblower was just horrified by the soundthe children weeping, ass everybody else. And made a rording of it. And came to meor legaldvice and asked mei would for it toinger Thompson of propublica and release it to the publ and I've done so. Reporter: Customs and border protecti has declined to comment on this aud because much of what's happenings playing in closed-door facilitiesacross T almost 2,000- border, we relying on the firsthand units of people who have experiencehese centers to give us a snapshot of this crisis. Antar Davidson wd as a counselor at estr del norte, a government contracted shelter in Tucson, Ona. These were three sibs that had been separated from their mother the nightrior. Twonger siblings were holding the older ber for support, and he was crying. I said to him at this point, I said bro, you need to stro I kw this is difficult, but you needo kind of be strong for your siblings. And he L at me with tears streamin his face, and he says, how? How can I be strong? I dot know where my mom is look at my sibl. I can't do anything. They're trying to separate us. To which could only respond by putting my head down. The I THA the kids and parents are being ripped apart permanently is horrific. It's scary. It's, you know, devasting. And it also has enormous cts in terms of the health of ildren and their ability to become healthy adults. Repr: Dr. Colleen craft is the presidef the American academy of pediatrics. A a pediatric I know what it takes to build child health. I know what it takes to disrupt childhealth. And I was seeing in front of me the health of these chiren being disrupted by the removal of the one cont,he one person I their life who could help to shelter them during times of crisis and trial. Reporter: In April she sited ahelter in the Rio ande valley of Texas that houses CN. With very young children W know the brain doest of its depments between birth and 3 ye ofage. And so a day of separation there is like a week to a move separation for those of U who are older. So the worst things happen to thoungest children, it happens in THA age group. Reporter: It is the emotion imagery of children that has moved many to feel outraged. Is now famous photo was Tak by Getty photographer John E. He says the 2-year-old girl wa ripprom her mother'sarms. I spoke with mother V briefly. I asked Herre she came from, and S said she had come with her daughterom Honduras. And 'D been traveling a whole month. Reporter: He's been covering immigration for ten years and wrote the book "Undocumented: Immigration and the mitarization oe united states-mexico border." I only few seconds to get down the child's level. I photograp from the ground. And I think I took maybe seven pictures while she was crying and long up at H mother, who was being searched by a guard. And itas very hard for me to see as a father. Reporter: Today in Brownsville, Texas member of congress toured the casa depresiden children's center. What do you wanteople to know about what saw I there and what it me abouts issue overall? We I think I goes back to the fact that in the last month oro the United States government through this administration has initiated a policy to take kidsway from their parents. It's not right. It's immoral. It's inhumane. And we need ttopthat. Reporter: Protests across the country have Ed this sentimen this is one of the groups of otesters that are outside the fa here in mclen, and they're saying "N estalos," telling the people in they're not alone. Reporter: Allour living first ladies haveongly OPD separating miles. Laura bush penned an op-ed in the "Wagton post" yesterday writing "I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to E and pro our international boundaries. But this zero toleranceicy is cruel. It is immoral. D it breaks my heart." First Melania trump also ly commented publicly on E issue Ng, she hates to sehildren separated from their families andopes both sides ofhe aisle can finally come toget to achieve successful immigrationreform. She said,"we need be a country thatlows all laws but also a country THA governs with heart. President trump tod staunchly defended his administration's immigration licy. The United States will not bea migrant camp, a it will not be a refugee holding facility. It won't be. Reporter: At a conference today for the national sheriffs sociation, dhs secretary rstjen Nielsen O no apologies. To select few in th media, congress, and the advoc community I'd like to start with a message for you. This departm will no longer stand by and watch you att lawnforcement for enfoing the lawsassed by congre. Reporter: She doubled down at the white house press briefing today. We have some of the highest detentionndards in the country. Clai theseldren and their rents are treated inhumanely is not true. Have Yo seen the photos of children cages? Have you heard the aud clip of these children wailing that jus came out Y? I have -- I have not seen something that came out today. But I have been T detention ces. And again, I would reference Y to our standards.I woulderence you to the careovided, not just by the department O homeland security but by the department of health and human services when get to HHS. Is is that T image of this country you want out there,children -- The image I want of this country is an immigration system at secures our borders and upholds our humanitarian ideals. Reporter: Ovehe weekend former trump chief strategist Steve bannonppeared on "This week." We Rann a poliery ly to stopass illegal immigratioand limit illegal immigration, get our sovereignty ck and to help our workers. Okay? D so he went to a zero tolerancelicy. Zero tolerance. It's a crime to come across illegally. And Chen get separated. Reporter: Ashe fight rages on, and with polic mak at ds, it is the experience of those detained children that is of greatest concern. R "Nightline" I'm Marcus Mo in McAllen, Texas.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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