Mirian, a young woman who had fled Honduras, showed up at the Texas border with her eighteen-month-old son on February 20, 2018. She begged border agents for refuge from the political violence that plagues her home country.
But, the agents told her to put her son in a government automobile, and he was driven away from her.
Unfortunately, Mirian’s story is not an uncommon one. Data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (part of the Department of Health and Human Services) shows that, since October of 2017, over 700 children have been separated from adults who say they are their parents—over 100 of these children are younger than four years old.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement takes custody of these children who have been separated from their parents. The Department of Homeland Security had tried to deny these statistics at the beginning, but multiple federal officials confirmed the numbers to the New York Times, and eventually, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services also confirmed the numbers.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, these separations are not used as a tactic to deter undocumented immigrants from crossing the border. A spokesperson said, “As required by law, DHS must protect the best interests of minor children crossing our borders, and occasionally this results in separating children from an adult they are traveling with if we cannot ascertain the parental relationship, or if we think the child is otherwise in danger.”
But, considering this has happened over 700 times in seven months, it seems hard to believe that the motives are purely innocent.
Michelle Brane, the director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program (part of the Women’s Refugee Commission), said “The idea of punishing parents who are trying to save their children’s lives, and punishing children for being brought to safety by their parents by separating them, is fundamentally cruel and un-American.”
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