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June 04, 2018

Asylum Seeking Families, Too, Are Being Separated

Mothers and fathers who arrive with their children at an official port of entry to lawfully seek asylum are being forcibly separated from their children. Under Session’s “zero-tolerance” policy, migrants and refugees who cross the border between ports of entry are being referred for criminal prosecution and separated from their children. Yet even when asylum seekers follow the Trump Administration’s guidelines and arrive at official border stations—doing exactly what they are supposed to do—they are still being cruelly separated from their families.

  • “Brenda,” a Honduran asylum seeker, was forcibly separated from her infant son after requesting asylum at a port of entry. She said, “[border patrol agents] put him in a car and he started to cry, but they closed the door and put me in another car… It is so hard because he is so small and he doesn’t understand.”
  • Four fathers and their children arrived at the border in late 2017 fleeing death threats in El Salvador and Honduras. All four men were forcibly separated from their children. “What’s happening?” one of the girls asked her father. “You made me a promise that you would take me to where the princesses are.”
  • “Ms. L,” a Congolese mother, presented herself at the San Ysidro port of entry with her seven-year-old daughter to seek asylum. Border officials separated Ms. L from her child, sending her daughter to a government shelter thousands of miles away. They were separated for more than five months with only intermittent phone communication.
  • Mirian, a Honduran fleeing government persecution, arrived at a port of entry with her 18-month-old son asking for protection. She presented documents verifying their biological relationship, including his birth certificate. Despite this, Mirian said, “The officers forced me to strap my son into a car seat . . . and my son started to cry. Without giving me even a moment to comfort him, the officer shut the door.” They were separated for a total of two months and eleven days.
  • Ms. G, a Mexican asylum seeker, presented at a port of entry in Nogales, Arizona with her blind six-year-old daughter and her four-year-old son. Ms. G presented documentation demonstrating her relationship to her children but was separated from them, unable to receive information about their whereabouts for weeks.