By Garance Burke, Juliet Linderman & Martha Mendoza
Associated Press (8/16/19)
This story is part of an ongoing joint investigation between The Associated Press and the PBS series FRONTLINE on the treatment of migrant children, which includes an upcoming film.
After local Guatemalan officials burned down an environmental activist’s home, he decided to leave his village behind and flee to the United States, hoping he’d be granted asylum and his little boy, whose heart was failing, would receive lifesaving medical care.
But after crossing the border into Arizona in May of last year, Border Patrol agents tore the man’s 7-year-old son from his arms and sent the father nearly 2,000 miles (3,220 kilometers) away to a detention center in Georgia. The boy, now 8, went into a U.S.-funded foster home for migrant children in New York.
The Guatemalan father, now living in Southern California, is still struggling to soothe his son’s lasting nightmares. He says his once talkative and outgoing third-grader is now withdrawn and frequently says he wants to leave this world.
The foster care programs are meant to provide migrant children with care while authorities work to connect them with parents, relatives or other sponsors. But instead the boy told a counselor he was repeatedly sexually molested by other boys in the foster home.
A review of 38 legal claims obtained by The Associated Press — some of which have never been made public — shows taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $200 million in damages from parents who said their children were harmed while in government custody.
The father and son are among dozens of families — separated at the border as part of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy — who are now preparing to sue the federal government, including several who say their young children were sexually, physically or emotionally abused in federally funded foster care.
More cases expected
With more than 3,000 migrant children taken from their parents at the border in recent years, many lawsuits are expected, potentially totaling in the billions. Families who spoke to the AP and FRONTLINE did so on the condition of anonymity over fears about their families’ safety. …
- Court Rules Trump Administration Must Provide Detained Migrant Children Access To Soap And Other Basic Needs — Migrant children detained by the US government must have access to soap, toothpaste and other basic hygiene products, as well as edible food, clean water and places to sleep, a panel of judges has ruled. The administration had contended that detained immigrant children, who are required to be provided with “safe and sanitary” conditions, didn’t need basic hygiene products. The ninth circuit court of appeals in San Francisco tossed out the government’s challenge to a lower court’s findings that authorities had failed to provide safe and sanitary conditions for the children in line with a 1997 agreement widely known as the Flores settlement. The government argued that authorities weren’t required to provide specific accommodations under the settlement, such as soap, and asked the panel to weigh in. A Trump administration lawyer tried to argue the point in June, saying the agreement was vague and might not require that a toothbrush and soap be provided to children during brief stays in custody. … Read the Rest
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2019. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
MONSTERS: Mississippi ICE Raids Separate Mom From Her Breastfeeding Baby Girl
The mother “had this lost look. She doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring.”
The massive raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at Mississippi food-processing plants earlier this month has separated a young mother from her nursing four-month-old daughter, the Clarion Ledger reports.
The mom, arrested at Koch Foods in Morton, where she had worked for four years, is now being held in a Louisiana facility while her husband cares for the couple’s three children and continues to work. He faces his own deportation hearing, but not until 2021, according to the Ledger, which didn’t reveal the identities of the parents, who fear reprisals.
All three children, who were born in the U.S., are American citizens.
Nearly 700 people were arrested in the raids, but some 300 were later released on humanitarian grounds. Many had young children. They were given notices to appear before immigration judges. …