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Thread: ‘My son is not the same’: New testimony paints bleak picture of family separation

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    ‘My son is not the same’: New testimony paints bleak picture of family separation

    Last week, Democratic attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, arguing that its practice of separating families violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fifth Amendment. Now, in a new filing, they’re asking the federal government to provide more immediate information and access to those detained under the policy on an “expedited schedule.”

    The motion filed Monday came with more than 900 pages of declarations that included powerful personal testimonies from parents, children and other family members who were directly impacted by the Trump policy. It also included declarations from the state attorneys general offices, elected representatives, advocates and child and immigration experts who have dealt with families separated at the border.

    Trump signed an executive order on June 20, halting the separation practice and ordering families to be detained together instead. But in a statement, the attorneys general criticized the administration’s response. “Hundreds of separated parents are in federal custody and the Administration can move them to other facilities at any time without notice,” they said in the statement.

    “Hundreds of separated parents are in federal custody and the Administration can move them to other facilities at any time without notice.”

    The PBS NewsHour reached out to the federal agencies involved in the separation of families at the border — the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services; U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — for a response. All said they were unable to comment on ongoing litigation. The Department of Justice also declined to comment.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday the agency was prepared to reunite separated children with their parents, and would prioritize children under age 5 starting next week. But Azar, speaking to reporters, said families that have been reunited could still experience long stays in detention.
    It’s unclear how the lawsuit filed by the attorneys general would impact the administration’s efforts to reunify separated families.

    The NewsHour read through all 99 declarations and pulled 12 that offer a window into the family separations at the border.

    What parents say

    “(My son) is not the same since we were reunited. I thought that, because he is so young he would not be traumatized by this experience, but he does not separate from me. He cries when he does not see me. That behavior is not normal. In El Salvador he would stay with his dad or my sister and not cry. Now he cries for fear of being alone.”

    — Olivia Caceres was separated from her 1-year-old son in November at a legal point of entry. The boy’s father, who was seeking asylum, remains detained, Caceres said. It took three months for Caceres to get her son back from government custody. According to her testimony, she said that after reuniting with her toddler, “he continued to cry when we got home and would hold on to my leg and would not let me go. When I took off his clothes he was full of dirt and lice. It seemed like they had not bathed him the 85 days he was away from us.”

    “They told me to sign a consent form to take my daughter, but that it did not matter whether or not I signed, because they were going to take her either way.”

    — Angelica Rebeca Gonzalez-Garcia was apprehended and separated from her 7-year-old daughter in May. She hasn’t seen her since. She said officers at the border told her she would never see her daughter again, and that she had “‘endangered’ her by bringing her here,” she wrote. “I cannot express the pain and fear I felt at that point,” she wrote. Gonzalez-Garcia said she has spoken by phone to her daughter, who is currently in a shelter and said that she had been hit by a boy, was bruised and had gotten sick there.

    “…One of the officers asked me, “In Guatemala do they celebrate Mother’s Day?” When I answered yes he said, “then Happy Mother’s Day” because the next Sunday was Mother’s Day. I lowered my head so that my daughter would not see the tears forming in my eyes. That particular act of cruelty astonished me then as it does now. I could not understand why they hated me so much, or wanted to hurt me so much,” she wrote as part of her statement.

    “For eight days I was held in a small room with over 60 men. We called it The Freezer because the air conditioning was so strong that we felt like ice. The men got sick inside and we had to sleep, use the toilet, and pass the time all in the same tiny room.”

    — “L. Doe,” the father to a 5-year-old son and 1.5-year-old daughter, wrote that he and his family presented themselves at a port of entry to apply for asylum. They were separated immediately. He remains in detention. “My thoughts run in circles, and I feel as though I am going to lose my mind. I need to see my family and take care of them.”
    “[The children] did not have shoes or blankets in the detention center, and there were people in the cells that had to sleep standing up. They did not have enough to eat either, and could not drink the water, because of the chlorine they added to it … the incarcerated children were insulted – called named such as “animals” and “donkeys.”

    — Ludin Jimenez said she was separated from her children, age 9 and 17, when she crossed the border in May seeking asylum. The family was reunited June 28 in Boston. She wrote that she was kept in a cell with nearly 50 other mothers. “The officers told them that they could not eat because they were asking about their children. There was a pregnant woman who fainted from hunger.”

    According to her statement, Jimenez was not allowed “to bathe or brush her teeth for the eight days that she spent in the ‘dog pound.’”

    “There was an immigration officer who was a good person. He said that he understood what was going on, but could not help. He brought them cookies, since he knew they did not get enough to eat.”

    “I am worried about M.’s mental health when he learns that we have to start the process again and that he is not going to be released soon.”

    — Francisco Serrano, a Washington, D.C., resident whose niece Maria crossed the U.S. border at San Ysidro in Southern California with her two children, age 2 and 7, as part of a caravan. A week later, a shelter called Serrano, informing him that Maria was going to separated from her children, and that she had asked for Serrano to be a sponsor. Serrano describes trying to become an approved sponsor as a process marked by complications and insufficient communication. In June, he said a social worker told him he would have to restart the sponsorship process again “because the rules changed.” Maria is on her way to Washington, D.C., but the boys are still in custody.

    The 7-year-old, identified in the declaration as “M.”, “asked me why I had not picked him up yet,” Serrano wrote. “The social worker told me that [he] is depressed and asked me for words of encouragement to cheer him up.”

    What officials say

    “The guards would wake all the girls up at 4 a.m. to count them by kicking on their mats. … G cried when she told me she kept hoping her mother would show up to take her out of that horrible place, but that never happened. … G overheard a girl asking to make a phone call to her family, but she was told they did not allow girls to make phone calls while detained. “

    — Alma Poletti, an investigator for Washington’s attorney general, interviewed eight children who were separated from their families and sent to the Seattle area for care and detention. “The place was freezing …The girls placed their mats in the floor very close to one another, since there was not enough space to fit them more comfortably. Girls as young as 3 years old were detained in this place and without their mothers,” Poletti wrote. She said one girl, 14, referred to as “G,” “felt hungry most of the time she was there because the food they provided her wasn’t good in quality or quantity.” “G” couldn’t sleep through the night, Poletti added.

    “The placement of children with sponsors who have not been subject to the degree of evaluation and screening required by New Jersey law in all other circumstances substantially increases the risk that such children will be abused or neglected.”

    — Christine Norbut-Beyer, the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, said the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s rules for taking care of children placed in foster care are less rigorous than state laws in New Jersey. “The home study requirements in ORR policy also fall short of requirements imposed by New Jersey law on all other foster care or adoptive placements in the state,” she wrote. “This is important because it shows that a child’s conditions in custody under ORR might meet federal guidelines, but don’t meet state laws.”

    “ORR does not provide information to [relevant state agencies] about the specific location or placement of unaccompanied minors.

    — Marcela Ruiz, the chief of the Immigration and Refugees Program Branch of the California Department of Social Services, added in her statement that “state-funded programs that serve unaccompanied minors in California rely on the State’s funding to support outreach, identification, and referral services.”

    What advocates say

    “I simply cannot believe that my government could have done this to these people.”

    — Taylor Levy, the legal coordinator for the nonprofit Annunciation House, testified that he had worked with asylum seekers at the border for nine years. “I have borne witness to countless stories of rape, torture and murder. Despite all of this, I have never been as emotionally impacted by anything as intensely as I have been working with these mothers and fathers as they desperately struggle to be reunited with their minor children.”

    “It is evident to [Kids in Need of Defense] that there is no consistent policy for ensuring communication among separated children and parents.”

    — Jennifer Podkul, policy director for KIND, which provides legal assistance to children in immigration court.

    What medical experts say

    “Prolonged stress (also known as toxic stress) can permanently disrupt the structure and function of a child’s developing brain. These changes can manifest as greater likelihood of adopting unhealthy behaviors (e.g., smoking and illicit drug use), increased risk of diseases (e.g., obesity, heart disease and cancer), depression and socioeconomic inequalities.”

    — Howard Zucker, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health. In a separate testimony, Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of New York City’s public health care system, said that “NYC Health + Hospitals have treated several children who, based upon information provided to us in the course of taking patient histories, were separated from their families at the southwestern United States border … for such condition as asthma, strep throat, and suicidal ideation.”

    What lawmakers say

    “Both men visibly struggled to maintain their composure while recounting the trauma that they experienced since coming to the United States and ultimately broke down into tears. Our interpreter too broke down into tears, finding their stories too painful to bear.”

    — Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democratic congressman for Maryland, visited a detention center last month in Glen Burnie, Maryland, while the Trump administration was still separating children under its “zero tolerance” policy. There, he met two men who had been separated from their children under the policy. One of the men, identified as Carlos, fled Honduras with his 7-year-old son and reached the U.S. border at El Paso, Texas. He was arrested by border agents in March. The father, who said he was fleeing gang violence, wanted to claim asylum at the port of entry. Days later, Carlos was separated from his son. “Three months passed before Carlos was able to speak to his son again,” according to Ruppersberger’s testimony.

    “Carlos had the foresight to make his son memorize a relative’s phone number before they left Honduras. As a result, his son was able to contact the relative, who connected him to another family member in the United States. Carlos still did not know when he would be able to see his son again,” the congressman added.
    So keep your candles burning

    a.k.a. starchild, starburst, stardust, sweetpea, and dumber than dirt.

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    “They told me to sign a consent form to take my daughter, but that it did not matter whether or not I signed, because they were going to take her either way.”

    — Angelica Rebeca Gonzalez-Garcia was apprehended and separated from her 7-year-old daughter in May. She hasn’t seen her since. She said officers at the border told her she would never see her daughter again, and that she had “‘endangered’ her by bringing her here,” she wrote. “I cannot express the pain and fear I felt at that point,” she wrote. Gonzalez-Garcia said she has spoken by phone to her daughter, who is currently in a shelter and said that she had been hit by a boy, was bruised and had gotten sick there.
    So keep your candles burning

    a.k.a. starchild, starburst, stardust, sweetpea, and dumber than dirt.

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    And if this isn't bleak enough, there's more:

    Trump is set to separate more than 200,000 U.S.-born children from their parents

    If you think the last few weeks of separating 2,300 children from their migrant parents along the southern border were heart-wrenching, imagine if 273,000 American-born children are separated from parents whose temporary protected status (TPS) is terminated. That is what could happen if the Trump administration’s decision to revoke TPS for Haitians, Salvadorans and Hondurans is allowed to take effect.

    Despite President Trump’s executive order reversing his policy of separating migrant families, most of those 2,300 children have not been returned to their parents. That is truly unconscionable.

    More than 100 times that number of children — all U.S. citizens — will be placed in similar jeopardy if the Department of Homeland Security begins programs to deport more than 58,000 Haitians on July 22, 2019, more than 262,000 Salvadorans on Sept. 9, 2019, and 86,000 Hondurans on Jan. 5, 2020. Parents will be faced with the decision of whether to take their children — most of whom speak mainly English and know only life in this country — back to countries deemed by the State Department as not safe for travel, some with the highest homicide rates in the hemisphere. . . .

    The TPS provision in the Immigration Act of 1990 states that after each 18-month review, if conditions have changed — and governments can adequately handle the return of their citizens, and the returnees can return in safety — then it can be terminated. It does not say it is okay to deport them even as governments say they would still be overwhelmed or that it is still unsafe.

    The Trump administration’s TPS termination decision reversed the findings of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, their secretaries of state and secretaries of homeland security, and their legal advisers. They found conditions justified legally extending the temporary protected status after each of 14 reviews for Honduras since it was granted following Hurricane Mitch in 1999, each of 13 reviews for El Salvador following two earthquakes in 2001, and each of four reviews for Haiti following the worst earthquake in the region’s history in 2010.

    The decision to terminate the temporary protected status appears blatantly political since it contradicted the evaluation of U.S. diplomats in each of the countries who sent cables urging extension of TPS. They wrote that deportation of TPS holders and their children would endanger the fragile economies in those countries, overwhelm the countries’ abilities to provide services, lead to more violence, and prompt new flows of migrants to our borders, thus undermining U.S. national security interests. The U.S. Southern Command, which covers Central and South America, came to the same conclusion. . . .
    Various studies show that more than 80 percent of TPS beneficiaries work, pay taxes, and contribute an estimated $690 million each year into Social Security. It would cost an estimated $3 billion to deport them and the U.S. economy would lose about $4.5 billion each year in gross domestic product.
    So keep your candles burning

    a.k.a. starchild, starburst, stardust, sweetpea, and dumber than dirt.

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    Well, Trump wanted to make history .... he will. I guess leaving a legacy (via deliberate abuse towards asylum seekers via the use of their children) of evil is better than no legacy at all, eh?
    As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes."
    When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics."
    When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty
    -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.
    - ABRAHAM LINCOLN, letter to Joshua F. Speed, August 22, 1855





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    You miss the point. They are more likely brown (not the same as real Americans) and don't speak English (Like real Americans). So Trumpers and Trumpettes dont care.
    Face it, we never should have let in all the Eyetalians, Jews, Slavs etc. Even the Irish, they brought the Pope with them.
    Nope, God just wanted us to have a country full of white people, white people who worshiped in churches where sermons were in English, not in Latin.
    Oh, and it was OK to get rid of the Injuns. God wanted that.

    Per Scott Pruitt (lately departed but not lamented) God's Providence put Donny in place. Interesting people his deity likes. Well at least he is not brown (maybe the racoony eyes sealed the deal?).

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    What I am finding really scary is the news stories that indicate the administration is digging into the records of legal immigrants, not just green card holders but naturalized citizens, looking for any reason to revoke their status and deport them. Kicking immigrants out of the military to prevent them from gaining citizenship. The standard excuse of 'it's just about illegals' is starting to fall apart.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonahdog View Post
    You miss the point. They are more likely brown (not the same as real Americans) and don't speak English (Like real Americans). So Trumpers and Trumpettes dont care.
    Face it, we never should have let in all the Eyetalians, Jews, Slavs etc. Even the Irish, they brought the Pope with them.
    Nope, God just wanted us to have a country full of white people, white people who worshiped in churches where sermons were in English, not in Latin.
    Oh, and it was OK to get rid of the Injuns. God wanted that.

    Manifest Destiny. God-led president.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.



    Per Scott Pruitt (lately departed but not lamented) God's Providence put Donny in place. Interesting people his deity likes. Well at least he is not brown (maybe the racoony eyes sealed the deal?).
    His resignation letter was nauseating.
    So keep your candles burning

    a.k.a. starchild, starburst, stardust, sweetpea, and dumber than dirt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rusha View Post
    Well, Trump wanted to make history .... he will. I guess leaving a legacy (via deliberate abuse towards asylum seekers via the use of their children) of evil is better than no legacy at all, eh?



    What's as bad as Trump's legacy is the base legacy of his supporters and the spineless cowardice of the GOP.
    So keep your candles burning

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    Quote Originally Posted by annabenedetti View Post
    What's as bad as Trump's legacy is the base legacy of his supporters and the spineless cowardice of the GOP.

    Better get yerself a puppy to hug

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    Quote Originally Posted by ok doser View Post
    Better get yerself a puppy to hug

    Better get yourself a conscience.
    So keep your candles burning

    a.k.a. starchild, starburst, stardust, sweetpea, and dumber than dirt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ok doser View Post
    Better get yerself a puppy to hug
    Actually 3 dogs in my house. The border collie is way smarter than Donny John. Even the Scottish Deerhound, not known for their brains but for their speed and sweetness, is more intelligent than the current White House brain trust.

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    Quote Originally Posted by annabenedetti View Post
    Better get yourself a conscience.
    No need for Repubs to have one, they got a tax cut.

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    Quote Originally Posted by annabenedetti View Post
    Better get yourself a conscience.

    we don't need no steenking conscience

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    Only the Dems can be blamed for these things.

    They had the votes to pass any immigration law which they wanted during Obama's first term and they did nothing. Now they are doing their best to obstruct any effort to solve the problem.

    This unresolved problem forms the very basis for the Dem's "Identity Politics" and they are determined that they will play it out as long as they can no matter who is harmed!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kit the Coyote View Post
    What I am finding really scary is the news stories that indicate the administration is digging into the records of legal immigrants
    I'm sure it didn't scare you in the least when Obama sent out his secret police to spy on his political opponents.

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