Yesterday, a federal judge in Chicago, Manish Shah, ruled that the Trump administration should stop making excuses and start reunifying families – in the case at hand, the mother Lydia Souza and her 9-year old son Diego. As the New York Times wrote:
Noting in his ruling that there was no dispute that Ms. Souza was a fit mother, Judge Shah wrote that “the public has an interest in the constitutional right to familial integrity.” To keep the two separated “irreparably harms them both,” he wrote
…Ms. Souza directed a plea to President Trump. “Don’t do this to the children,” she said. “They shouldn’t be involved in this. They don’t deserve to go through this suffering.”
While the impending reunification of Lydia and Diego is heartening, their story is the exception. More than 2,000 children remain separated from their parents, and the Trump administration doesn’t seem to have a plan or priority to resolve this crisis of their own creation. As a series of first-hand accounts make clear, parents are devastated and families are desperate:
Michael Miller in the Washington Post, “Inside a U.S. immigration jail, mothers count the days since they’ve seen their children”:
The list has 18 entries: 18 mothers, identified not by name but by numbers assigned to them by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Scrawled on the back of religious leaflets, it is a snapshot of suffering here at the Eloy Detention Center, an immigration jail where scores of parents wait for information about children stripped from them at the U.S.-Mexico border and scattered across the country.
“It’s been four months since I saw my son,” one woman wrote next to her nine-digit alien registration number. “He’s three years old.”
“I haven’t even spoken to her,” wrote a mother separated from her 5-year-old for weeks. “I’m desperate.”
“I’m destroyed,” added another.
…“We are all in the same pain,” the 32-year-old from Guatemala said during a jailhouse interview Tuesday afternoon. “We are all tormented.”
…Bhavan Patel sat in an immigration courtroom there Tuesday, a tiny, solitary figure in a faded green prison uniform. She fled political persecution in Ahmedabad, India, traveling to Greece and then Mexico before crossing the U.S. border illegally with her disabled 5-year-old son, Patel and her attorney said during a bond hearing. Patel’s hair — she is 33 — had started to turn white. She wrung her hands incessantly.
“Her son is not doing well,” said her attorney, Alinka Robinson, as a telephonic translator relayed the proceedings to Patel in her native tongue of Gujarati.
…Veliz spoke to her son on Sunday, his 11th birthday. The family had planned to celebrate together in the United States. Now they were in three states in three different parts of the country. Her son told her a shelter employee had sung him “Happy Birthday,” so Veliz sang “Las Mañanitas,” the Latin American equivalent. She sobbed as she recounted the story at Eloy on Tuesday. “Wake up, my dear,” she sang to the son she longed to see again. “How lovely is the morning in which I come to greet you.”
Delphine Schrank in Reuters, “Deported after Trump order, Central Americans grieve for lost children”
Before deporting him in shackles last week, U.S. immigration agents handed Honduran asylum-seeker Melvin Garcia his few possessions and a small blue wallet belonging to Daylin, the 12-year-old daughter they had taken from him.
Uncertain when he might see her again, after being barred from the United States by his deportation order, Garcia, 37, is one of an uncertain number of parents sent home without their children under the Trump administration.
…Hours after he arrived back in Honduras alone on June 21, Garcia slumped in a concrete shack in a section of the town of Choloma controlled by Barrio 18, one of two gangs whose death threats he said he fled in March with Daylin. Tortured with thoughts that he might not see Daylin for years, Garcia clutched at her wallet. Whenever he recalled his desperate search for her in U.S. detention, he broke down, tears streaming off his face.
…He fled with Daylin after someone pressed a gun to his own head. When he requested asylum at the McAllen, Texas, port of entry on March 24, Garcia said he showed U.S. authorities proof of Daylin’s parentage and news clippings of murdered drivers to back his asylum claim.
He had no criminal record, he said, showing Reuters a Honduran police document attesting to his clean history. Garcia said the attitude of U.S. officials stunned him. “They asked her if she was pregnant. A girl of 12 years old.”
Garcia said immigration officials led Daylin away after they had spent a day together in the “icebox” – holding cells described to Reuters by dozens of migrants as permanently lit and bedless, pumped with frigid air. Both had assumed the separation was temporary, so he never said a real goodbye, Garcia said.
When Daylin did not return, he begged for news as he was moved from one detention center to another over the next two months. Officials only said she had been taken elsewhere.
“They wouldn’t tell me. I had no way to communicate,” he said. “I tried in writing … I tried many times.”
Finally, Garcia said he received a terse, hand-written note, signed by a U.S. official that said, “Your daughter is being held in a juvenile facility in southern Texas, pending an appointment in court.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Is this administration serious about resolving the crisis they manufactured? What’s the plan? Who’s in charge? As these devastating first-hand accounts of parents make disturbingly clear, we are in the midst of a moral crisis of historic proportions that is being done by our government, in our name and with our tax dollars. The Trump administration needs to be held accountable to meet the court-ordered deadlines. The Republican Congress is not doing it. It’s up to Judge Sabraw and those of us taking to the streets this weekend to put an end to this dark chapter.