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The Family Separation Crisis Continues, the Suffering of Children Continues, and the Nation Turns its Lonely Eyes to Judge Sabraw

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The Court Must Act Decisively; Nielsen, Azar Must Be Held Accountable

Six weeks past the court-ordered deadline to reunite the families callously torn apart by the Trump administration, the latest numbers remain stubbornly and startlingly high:

  • Over 600 children are either still in detention or have been released to someone other than their parents.
  • 416 children, including 14 of whom are under the age of 5, remain in detention and separated from their parents.
  • 304 of the children have parents already deported.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

After initial progress, it is now painfully clear that the same Trump administration that mobilized to separate kids from parents with no intention of reuniting them has no intention of mobilizing to complete the court-ordered process of reuniting them. Judge Sabraw, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. You are the one who restored our hope in humanity by using your authority to insist that kids be with their mom and dad. But bureaucratic foot-dragging and institutional indifference are as inexcusable today as they were 43 days ago – the deadline date you imposed for all families be put back together. Please continue to stand up for what is right and decent. Please call the top officials responsible for this dark chapter on the carpet. Please consider holding DHS Secretary Nielsen and HHS Secretary Azar in contempt. It’s time, once again, for dramatic action to end this horrible chapter and this ongoing suffering.

Even for the reunited families, the trauma endures. CNN reports on these lasting effects from the perspective of Alejandro, a thirteen year old who, alongside his mother, fled Guatemala and his father. Once they crossed the border, they were separated for two months. Back in Guatemala, Alejandro suffers recurring nightmares:

But Alejandro’s nightmares aren’t about deportation.

“They are about being far from my mom,” he said. “My mom was far, in another place. My mind was so frustrated that sometimes I still think that I’m there. Sometimes I sit in one spot and I start to visualize everything that I lived, everything that happened to me.”

The gravity of that trauma can only be understood by the children who endured it.

“It hurt me so much because (my mom) was the only thing I had. I was completely alone,” Alejandro said. “My mom, the person who supported me since I was little … she’s always been by my side. I didn’t have any other support — nothing more than my family and my mom.”

While many kids his age are embarrassed by their moms or want to assert their independence, Alejandro now clings to his mother like a toddler.

“As a nation, we have inflicted a lifetime of pain on families whose ‘crime’ was to see America as a place of refuge and compassion. Let us do what it takes to follow through on the immediate task of reunification and to begin the arduous process of healing,” concluded Sharry.