Perla Karlili Alemengor Miranda De Velasquez is an asylum-seeking mother from Guatemala who is suing the Trump administration for the return of her daughter.
The mother explained through a translator that she willingly let her 12-year-old daughter leave with border agents at 3 am because “she had seen officers physically abuse small children who resisted,” according to the Daily Mail.
“I didn’t want her to go, but I had seen officers grab little children who were three or four years old by their hair and throw them into cells when they tried to get back to their mothers,” Miranda said in the interview. “I didn’t want them to hurt my daughter.”
Miranda’s attorney told the Daily Mail that the translation is correct and that “his client would stand by that statement.”
The lawsuit names Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen as two of the six defendants whom Miranda is holding responsible for the safe return of her child.
After crossing the border on May 19, the lawsuit says that Miranda had her government-issued IDs and her daughter’s birth certificate despite her daughter being “mischaracterized” as an “unaccompanied child” — an important distinction that can otherwise mislabel a child as a trafficking victim.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) is “an act of congress designed to ensure actual unaccompanied alien minors are ‘protected from traffickers and other persons seeking to victimize or otherwise engage children in criminal activity,'” the lawsuit says.
According to Miranda’s attorney, the act is there to protect children, but mislabeling them “wrongly puts the burden on the parents to prove that they are not traffickers or doing something to endanger or victimize the child.”
Aside from mislabeling, the living conditions in detention centers has been a major topic of concern since the Trump administration’s “zero-policy” resulted in the separation of 2,300 children from their families in just one month.
Less than a week ago, CNN released a story detailing the poor living conditions and alleged abuse of children in detention facilities that took place last year.
After riding in the car with friends, a ninth grader was pulled over in McAllen, Texas, and taken into custody after unable to show identification.
The high schooler was then separated from his mother, who illegally brought him into the country as a baby, and ultimately endured “grave abuse” at a shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children.
“They will grab my hands and put them behind my back so I can’t move. Sometimes they will use pens to poke me in the ribs, sometimes they grab my jaw with their hands,” CNN reported of the boy, named John Doe 2, in the legal filings of his detainment.
According to CNN, the same punishment was described by five other children who detailed being placed in handcuffs and restraint chairs, including a statement from another child who said, “he was left naked, strapped to the chair for more than two days.”
While some immigration attorneys handling these cases told the news outlet that “some of these facilities provide the best care they can give given the circumstances,” Miranda’s account seems to fall in line with that of John Doe 2’s.
According to the lawsuit, Miranda described how her daughter said she was kept “in a small room” and “fed cold food” in poor sleeping conditions with only an aluminum blanket and no pillow, the Daily Mail reported.
Miranda has been freed on bond and is adamant that her daughter not only be freed as well, but released unharmed.