ICE Separates 18-Month-Old From Mother for Months

At this very instant, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is depriving an 18-month-old child of his mother, separating the two in immigration detention. Mirian, a 29-year-old mother from Honduras, is currently detained in T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas, while her toddler is kept in a facility in San Antonio, some 120 miles away.

Their ordeal has already lasted two months.

They are just one of hundreds of families who are subjected to ICE’s brutal tactic of forcibly separating immigrant parents and children and on whose behalf the ACLU has brought a national class-action lawsuit. On Friday, The New York Times reported new data, estimating that more than 700 children have been taken from their parents since October, including more than 100 children under the age of 4.

Fleeing government violence in Honduras, Mirian came to the U.S. with her young son on Feb. 20, 2018, presenting herself to immigration authorities and asking for asylum. During her interview, Mirian gave the immigration officers her Honduran ID card and several identification documents for her child, including his birth certificate and his hospital birth record, both of which list her as his mother.

However, once the interview was over, the officers said that they were going to take her son away from her. She repeatedly asked why they couldn’t stay together, but she was not given a reason. The officers then made her carry her 18-month-old child outside where a government car was waiting. As she placed him in the car seat, he began to cry. Without giving her a moment to comfort him or say goodbye, the officers shut the door and drove away.

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Mirian’s story comes to light on the heels of another highly publicized separation at the hands of the Trump administration. For four months, ICE forcibly separated a Congolese mother, Ms. L, and her seven-year-old child in facilities 2,000 miles apart. They were only reunited following public outcry and the ACLU’s lawsuit on their behalf, which has since expanded into the national class action.

And in fact, since their reunion, the Trump administration has made a coordinated effort to characterize what happened as an isolated incident. In recent weeks, leadership from the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, and ICE all appeared before Congress and characterized family separation as a rare occurrence.

CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan called family separation a “very rare occurrence,” which is “based on admitted or clear fraud from CBP perspective.”

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen admitted that the reunion of the Congolese mother and her child “took too long,” but she maintained that the agencies’ standard was “in every case, keep that family together.” She further maintained that when immigration authorities separate parents and children, it’s done because “the law tells them to” and it’s in the “interest of the child.”

ICE Executive Associate Director Matthew T. Albence, who oversees enforcement and removal operations, assured Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard that ICE's "concern always is the health and well-being of that child."

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This defense falls apart very quickly when looking at the facts, the administration’s statements, and the Constitution.

Mirian provided identification documents but still was forced to watch a car drive away with her only child with no idea where he was going or how he would be treated. ICE made both Ms. L and her seven-year-old suffer needlessly for four months without making any effort to verify the mother-daughter relationship. Only after the ACLU filed its lawsuit did the agency administer a DNA test, which of course proved their relationship.

The administration continues to deny that family separation is an official “policy.” However, reports rose several months ago that the Trump administration was considering separating border-crossing parents from their children. This was confirmed in March by then-DHS Secretary John Kelly who said it would help deter Central Americans from coming to the United States. Whether or not it is a “policy” the fact remains that in practice it is happening to hundreds of families.

These families have the constitutional right to due process regardless of immigration status. They are being forcibly separated without hearings or for a compelling government interest. The consequences will be serious.

Experts know that the trauma that these children are experiencing is incalculable. The American Academy of Pediatrics denounced the administration’s plans saying that “the psychological distress, anxiety, and depression associated with separation from a parent would follow the children well after the immediate period of separation—even after the eventual reunification with a parent or other family.”

No matter how the Trump administration attempts to spin its actions, the suffering it is causing is intentional and illegal, and the administration must be held accountable.

View comments (117)
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BFair

She could have sought asylum in Mexico. Plus, how are we to know who’s kid belongs to whom?! It’s a frigging free-for-all at the border.

Anonymous

Admin people: Why is there an option to reply to this person's comment, but no such option to reply to any of the people who made replies to this person's comment? What legitimate reason COULD there be?

Anonymous

You ignoramous, they are fleeing their home because of danger. And they come here and we take their kids away. What about this is “legal” and how can you just reply “ don’t cone here illegally”. And, actually, they are coming legally , to the border , trying to get asylum.

Jessica veal

Say it with your fucking name bitch

Jay

Tough. Illegals DO NOT have MY Constitutional rights.

Anonymous

Yeah they do. Not all but most. And cruel and inhumane detention is actually one on the list that even applies to people here illegally. Go read your constitution, and note wherever in the amendments it makes a distinction between "person" and "citizen". Anywhere it says "citizen" that applies only to citizens. Anywhere it says "person" that applies to everyone.

Anonymous

Jay, an 18 month old is being kept in jail away from his mother. Which part of this fails to bother you. Who is changing that baby's diapers. Who is brushing him.

Anonymous

There is a clear difference between someone that comes here seeking asylum and someone who comes across the border to work illegally. Why don't YOU actually learn the LAWS and CONSTITUTION you so desperately like to (inaccurately) quote.
Also, JAY - here's a FUN FACT for you:
The SUPREME COURT has decided - ON AT LEAST 3 SEPARATE OCCASIONS - that immigrants, whether LEGAL or ILLEGAL actually do have the same CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS as you or I.
For reference, please see:
Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886)
Wong Wing v. U.S. (1896)
Plyler v. Doe (1982)

Also - you don't speak for all Americans. So kindly sit down.

jbdean

It’s not a matter of what you think but what is legal. That’s the main problem with people who don’t want anyone to come to America ... they are under the delusion that being a citizen makes them better than a non-citizen. What you fail to accept is that we are ALL just humans and to deny someone sanctuary is not just selfish but down right inhumane.

But if Frump continues on his path WWIII will most likely be fought at home here. Let’s just hope if you have to flee and seek sanctuary in another country you’re not forcibly separated from your loved ones or worse, denied and sent back.

Anonymous

They may not have your constitutional rights but they are still human. I hope you do not call yourself a Christian. This is a very Nazi thing to do

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