An undocumented immigrant from Honduras was breastfeeding her daughter when federal agents ripped the child away from her mother. The scared mom was awaiting prosecution inside a Texas detention center and was handcuffed when she resisted the removal of her child.
The absolutely insane moment was recounted by Natalia Cornial, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project. The woman was detained under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy to refer anyone caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution. That policy has separated at least 500 children from their parents in the last month.
Numerous accounts of parents losing track of their children have been reported. In some cases, parents are told their children are being bathed or cleaned up and they never see them again.
Despite numerous claims against US Customs and Border Protection officials, agency spokesman Carlos Diaz issued the following statement: “Nothing could be further from the truth and these allegations are unsubstantiated.”
Despite the “unsubstantiated” claim, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department was unable to confirm how many children were ripped away from their parents by Trump’s zero-tolerance policy.
When asked last month if it was “cruel and heartless” to rip children away from their parents, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said it was just a consequence of parents making a poor decision.
“I wouldn’t put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States, and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long,” Kelly said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions echoed Kelly’s statement:
“So, if you cross the border unlawfully, even a first offense, we’re going to prosecute you… If you’re smuggling a child, we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.”
In the meantime, local and federal prosecutors have complained that the zero-tolerance policy has drastically increased the number of cases they must handle in a single day, a move that could affect their ability to prosecute drug dealers and other hardened criminals.