On the latest episode of The Rachel Maddow Show, the normally stoic host broke down as she read a breaking news report about locations where very young immigrant children are being housed after they are separated from their families at the U.S. border. Indeed, this video of Rachel Maddow's "tender age shelters" report reveals the strong emotion the host felt as she reflected on young children being taken from their parents.
On her show, Maddow was reading a breaking news report from the Associated Press regarding three so-called "tender age shelters" in Texas where "Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents." As she read the opening lines of the article, Maddow began to get choked up, stumbling on her words. She attempted to continue sharing the article, but eventually decided to stop reading the piece, saying with a tearful voice, "I think I’m going to have to hand this off ... sorry."
Maddow appeared disappointed with her emotional reaction to the article. Following the show, she wrote on Twitter, "Ugh, I'm sorry. If nothing else, it is my job to actually be able to speak while I'm on TV ... Again, I apologize for losing it there for a moment. Not the way I intended that to go, not by a mile." However, in response, many on social media told her not to apologize and thanked her for "showing her humanity." As one Twitter user put it, "Never apologize for showing your humanity. That’s just one reason so many of us respect and admire you so much."
Others on social media indicated that Maddow's response to the AP's article really resonated with them — and also reflected the gravity and tragedy of the family separation policy. For example, actor Ato Essandoh wrote on Twitter, "Rachel Maddow just lost it on live television. Because she was trying to read the breaking news that babies are being taken to 'tender age' shelters. Babies. We have hit the bottom America ..."
Another Twitter user echoed similar sentiments, writing, "Wow ... Rachel #Maddow just broke down crying on her own show about the family separations at the border. Learning there are 'tender age' shelters for babies was, obviously, too much for her (and the rest of us)."
The Associated Press article which Maddow was attempting to share on her show revealed that there are at least three "tender age shelters" in South Texas to house very young children — and plans for a fourth shelter in Houston are in the works.
The Associated Press interviewed Kay Bellor, the vice president for programs at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, for its piece. Bellor's organization offers foster care for migrant children. She expressed shock that such young children would be placed in an institution. “The thought that they are going to be putting such little kids in an institutional setting? I mean it is hard for me to even wrap my mind around it,” Bellor asserted. “Toddlers are being detained," she added.
The article also explained that the U.S. government seemingly has no protocol for operating shelters with large numbers of young children, as the country's child welfare system decided many years ago that orphanages could have long-term detrimental effects on kids. As Michelle Brane, the director of migrant rights at the Women’s Refugee Commission, told the Associated Press, "There is no model for how you house tons of little children in cots institutionally in our country. We don’t do orphanages, our child welfare has recognized that is an inappropriate setting for little children.”
The notion that incredibly young children are being held alone in shelters clearly profoundly affected Maddow. And, judging by social media's response to Maddow's emotional reaction, hearing the news about tender age shelters had similar heart-rending effects on many members of the public.