The outside world knows very little about the deportation process because the United States immigration system hides behind closed doors. Some immigration courts are kept inside secure ICE detention centers. Immigration judges can remove spectators and close the doors to proceedings at their discretion. The Times reporters were removed from immigration court in Texas without any explanation. Detainees have little access to quality cell service and letters sent to them are screened by ICE officers. It is nearly impossible to fix a system with such limited information. Democrats are calling to abolish the immigration system entirely and rewrite the current legislation.
A teenage girl from El Salvador told investigators about her experience in the detention center. Her testimony is being used in a lawsuit by 17 states to block the separation of parents from their children at the border. The young girl said she was forced into a room with 60 other girls. The room was divided into three sections by a wire fence. The temperature was freezing but the girls were only provided a mat and aluminum blanket for comfort. At 4am every morning, the girls were awoken by officers kicking their mats to give them a small meal. This young girl fled to the United States to escape death threats from MS-13. In the States, she was forced into an “icebox cage” reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps.
Asylum by the Numbers:
3000 Children Separated 100 Toddlers Reunions: 520
Asylum Cap 2016: 110,000 Cap 2019: 25,000
On June 30th, immigration protests ignited the country. In over 10 major cities, thousands of activists and advocates took to the streets in one voice, “Families Belong Together.” Despite this, reunions are few and far between. Reunion processes have been hampered by the mishandling of paperwork linking the children with their parents. Some of the documents have been completely destroyed. The Department of Health and Human Services has resorted to DNA testing to continue reuniting families. One mother said that HHS returned her 14 month old son after 85 days filthy and covered in lice. The separation has put a lot of strain on each of the parents and its effects are noticeably present in the asylum hearings. Reports show that parents separated from their children are more likely to fail their asylum screenings due to the added stress. In the last two weeks, Trump ordered immigration officers to give parents two options, leave the country with your children or remain separated permanently to pursue the asylum decision.