This Is What The United States Has Become: When Immigration Detention Means Losing Your Kids

By Emma Jacobs
Morning Edition/NPR (12/8/17)

About five million children in the United States have an undocumented parent. These families have always been at risk of separation if the parents are detained, but expanded immigration enforcement actions under the Trump administration may increase that risk.

Immigration attorneys are warning that without preventative measures, more children will end up in foster care, and their parents will struggle to regain custody from outside the United States. They point to cases like that of a Guatemalan woman named Maria Luis, who was separated from her children back in 2005.

“Daniel knew me but Angie didn’t. I said to her ‘I’m your mother,” Luis says.

“No, you’re not my mother,” her daughter replied.

“That hurt me a lot,” she remembers, “because I had fought and fought and cried for so many years.”

Federal immigration agents picked up the young mother, who was living in the country illegally in Grand Island, Nebraska. She was detained for about a month, separated from her 7-year-old son and infant daughter. She thought the children would rejoin her on the flight to her native Guatemala, right up until an immigration agent escorted her to her gate.

“There was no Angie, no Daniel,” she recalls. She says the officer told her, “your children are going to stay with the state. Your children aren’t going to Guatemala.”

Boarding the plane that would take her thousands of miles away from them, Luis says, “I wanted to kill myself. I wanted to die.” …

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