Under President Trump's recently amended "zero tolerance" border policy, U.S. border agents separated children from their parents either right away, at massive processing facilities like one in McAllen, Texas, known as "la hielera" (freezer), or on the morning parents were bussed to court to be charged with illegal entry, typically a misdemeanor. "Border officials told parents they'd see their children when they got back from court," The Washington Post reports, adding:
But when they returned, their children were gone, taken to federal shelters. Some parents were told that their children were being taken for a bath, but then the kids did not come back. At a shelter in McAllen, as word spread that children were being pulled from their parents, some mothers and fathers took to sleeping with their legs wrapped around their children so they couldn't be snatched. [The Washington Post]
Detained parents at a facility outside Houston and their lawyers tell The Texas Tribune that U.S. officials are giving them a choice: They will be reunited with their children at the airport if they voluntarily give up their asylum claims and agree to be deported. One Honduran man, "Carlos," said he agreed to be deported "out of desperation" to see his 6-year-old daughter, but now he's trying to get out of his agreement. He said he's spoken to his daughter once since she was taken in late May and "she can't talk, she cries because she's locked up."
Immigration lawyers are skeptical that federal officials could even keep their end of that bargain. Cynthia Milian, a lawyer who has spoken with Carlos, told The Texas Tribune she doubts the feds "would put his child on a plane to get her to where he would get deported out from, especially if she's in Arizona," where Carlos was told she is being kept. "I just don't see that happening." Read more at The Washington Post and The Texas Tribune.