Immigrant children packed in crowded cells

(CNN) – The Obama administration is calling this a humanitarian crisis; pictures taken within the last week, since other facilities were opened up to accommodate the crowds fairly recently.

These disturbing leaked images apparently show undocumented children cramped inside a border patrol holding cell, sleeping on the floor under foil blankets. US officials say basic necessities, such as food and showers, are scarce.

“Beginning on Tuesday we started seeing families dropped off, including children under the age of 5, some as young as 3 to 6 months old.”

Senior Obama administration officials tell CNN these children are trying to cross the southwest border in droves, trekking all the way from Central American countries, such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Now, with tens of thousands pouring into the US, they are overwhelming American facilities, particularly in Texas.

Senior administration officials say children told them they were escaping the violence in their homeland. Other sources tell CNN the problem is compounded by smugglers who are giving false hopes to illegal aliens, telling them that the window is closing to come to the US before immigration laws change.

Officials tell CNN while they had prepared this year for more undocumented children, the numbers in the past weeks were much larger than anticipated; that’s why they haven’t been able to get all children out of these immigration processing centers within the required 72 hour window.

The US says three military bases will handle some of the overflow.

Over the last week, buses of immigrant family groups arrived in Arizona in record numbers. About 1000 were children. Processing facilities were at capacity there, so the federal government was forced to find other options for the immigrants; a move that’s outraged Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

She released a statement saying DHS was transporting “thousands of illegal aliens and releasing them at bus stations in Tucson and Phoenix.”

Adding to the problem: once undocumented families are put on the buses, they’re told go to certain ICE facilities within 15 days. But a US official tells CNN some never show up.

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