When the U.S. puts a border between migrant kids and their caretakers

:: Peoples Time Online ::

On June 12, Gerardo, a 41-year-old indigenous bricklayer from Guatemala, appeared before a U.S. immigration judge in El Paso, Texas. Since crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally two months earlier with his 14-year-old son, he had been separated from the boy and forced to wait in Mexico for his hearing.

Now, he had only one question for the judge: “Can you help me get my son back?”

After they crossed into the United States, a border patrol agent declared the boy’s photocopied birth certificate to be fake, casting doubt on their father-son relationship. Despite Gerardo’s protestations in broken Spanish, officers took the boy, Walter, away.

Gerardo was sent to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to wait out his immigration court proceedings, with no idea where Walter was taken and no instructions on how to find him, according to Gerardo and his attorneys, who recounted the court appearance and circumstances of his case to Reuters. They asked that his surname be withheld because Gerardo fears for his family’s safety in Guatemala.

In a phone call to a cousin in Arkansas, Gerardo said, he learned that Walter was at a large migrant children’s shelter near Miami. Separated from his dad, Walter later recalled, “I felt like the world was crashing down on me.”

As a new Trump administration policy rapidly expands, family separations increasingly are complicated by a formidable barrier: an international border.

Started in January, the policy known as “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP) requires some migrants to wait in Mexico for their immigration cases to be processed, while others – based largely on border authorities’ discretion – are allowed to wait in the United States. Under MPP, about 18,500 migrants have been returned to Mexico, Mexican officials say.
WARNING: Assigned ad is expired! Extend the term or Delete it.
WARNING: Assigned ad is expired! Extend the term or Delete it.