More than 1,500 boys aged 10 to 17 who crossed the US border illegally are being held in a  former Walmart superstore in Texas. 

The US Health and Human Services Department allowed a small group of journalists to tour the facility but did not allow any photographs or or interviews, instead releasing its own pictures.

It was the first look inside the children’s shelter, the largest in America, since Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, announced a "zero tolerance" policy last month.

The shelterCredit:
Reuters

Under that policy children are being separated from parents they crossed the Mexico border with and held in different centres.

Most of the boys at the Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, crossed the border without parents, but some have been separated from their parents.

The government tour came after Jeff Merkley, a Democrat US senator, showed up outside and was refused access.

Jaime Garcia, the shelter’s program director, told reporters on the tour: "All the kids have been able to talk to their parents."

Children at the shelterCredit:
Reuters

They were shown a room with pool tables and children playing computer football games. Some watched the film Moana dubbed into Spanish.

Some were being taught in temporary classrooms.

A bedroom at the shelterCredit:
Reuters

Outside there were basketball courts and a football field.

The boys get two hours outside a day, and two phone calls per week.

Boys at the shelter get two calls a weekCredit:
Reuters

Each area of the shelter was named for a US president with a picture of that leader and quote.

The Trump wing featured a picture of the current president and a quote from his book The Art of the Deal, which said: "Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war."

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