Along the U.S.-Mexico border, babies and toddlers are living in high-crime cities – often in crowded shelters and tents or on the streets – for the weeks or months it takes to get a U.S. asylum hearing.

The risk of violence and illness runs high and is of particular concern for families with young children or those with chronic health conditions, according to interviews with health professionals, migrants, aid workers and advocates.

The children, whose numbers have not been previously reported, are among tens of thousands of migrants returned to Mexico under a Trump administration policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). Most are from Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador.

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