America's Voice En Español »
Writing in the New York Times, Vivian Yee and Miriam Jordan tell the story of Fernanda Jacqueline Davila, a toddler from Honduras taken from her grandmother as part of the Trump administration’s unresolved family separation crisis. The story describes Fernanda’s appearance before an immigration judge — as a two-year old.
Excerpts of the piece are below and can be found online here:
The youngest child to come before the bench in federal immigration courtroom No. 14 was so small she had to be lifted into the chair. Even the judge in her black robes breathed a soft “aww” as her latest case perched on the brown leather.
Her feet stuck out from the seat in small gray sneakers, her legs too short to dangle. Her fists were stuffed under her knees. As soon as the caseworker who had sat her there turned to go, she let out a whimper that rose to a thin howl, her crumpled face a bursting dam.
The girl, Fernanda Jacqueline Davila, was 2 years old: brief life, long journey. The caseworker, a big-boned man from the shelter that had been contracted to raise her since she was taken from her grandmother at the border in late July, was the only person in the room she had met before that day.
… These young immigrants are stranded at the junction of several forces: the Trump administration’s determination to discourage immigrants from trying to cross the border; the continuing flow of children journeying by themselves from Central America; the lingering effects of last summer’s family-separation crisis at the border; and a new government policy that has made it much more difficult for relatives to claim children from federal custody.
At the moment, the government’s rolls include hundreds of children in shelters and temporary foster care programs who were taken from an adult at the border, whether a parent, grandparent or some other companion. About 13,000 children who came to the United States on their own were being held in federally contracted shelters this month, more than five times the number in May 2017.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
A two year old being summoned to court? In America? After being separated from her grandmother? We need someone in authority to step in and put a stop to this. Need it be said? Evidently. Fernanda and the other tiny children should not be hauled before judges, should not be in prolonged federal custody and should not be kept from their family caregivers because ICE is now, as a matter of policy, scaring loved ones away under threat of deportation. The administration’s dehumanization of people with brown skin is despicable. This, and the people responsible, will be remembered for generations to come. This, and the people responsible, will forever be known as the officials who separated families and locked up kids. This, and the people responsible, will, one day, be held accountable.