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The children are separated by sex and are placed in three age groups: 12 and younger, 13 to 15, and 16 to 17. A separate section holds young women with infants as well as older girls with very young brothers or sisters.

Nobody’s entirely sure how old the children are. They self-identify, but a few boys seen on the tour had healthy growths of facial hair.

The groups are separated by chain-link fencing topped with hurricane barbed wire. Army green and yellow tarps have been hooked up to the fences in some areas to give the girls and boys some privacy. The floors are spread with mats and a few tables.

Why the barbed wire? Officials said it’s a relic from when the facility, which was built in 2000, housed adults.

FEMA brought in five white trailers with 60 shower facilities, where the children are brought in groups on rotations and given towels, disposable toothbrushes and soap.

Boxes of clothes include newly purchased underwear and what appears to be used but clean clothing. In one section, most of the boys 13 to 15 were wearing white T-shirts and navy blue shorts, but no dress code was evident in the other groups.

Each group goes outside every day for recreation under a white tent set up on concrete. On Wednesday, a group of older girls played soccer with a female agent as other agents cheered. Several agents shot baskets with the girls under the tent, while other girls tossed around a tennis ball.

The groups of children are rotated through the dining area for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they also get an afternoon cracker snack. Breakfast usually includes a breakfast burrito; lunch is often rice, beans, chicken and vegetables, and dinner is similar.

One thing the Border Patrol has learned is that Central American children generally aren’t big flour eaters, so flour tortillas have been replaced with corn tortillas. Milk is available on request, but most children prefer water.

To ensure safety, agents sweep the fenced-in areas while the children are showering, eating or outside playing. They have found a few pieces of metal in the boys’ area, and lipstick and nail polish in the girls’ section.

The children don’t look unhappy — maybe a little bored — and some waved at reporters as they passed.

Officials did not offer an estimate of the number of children held at the Nogales facility, saying the number changes regularly as new arrivals are processed and others leave.