A Trump administration official told an 8-year-old girl who was separated from her family that her mother abandoned and wanting nothing to do with her, according to a Democratic lawmaker.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Calif.) made the declaration on Twitter and noted that their reunification suffered as a result:
A mom told us her relationship with her 8yo daughter would never be the same. Officials lied to the daughter, saying her mom abandoned her. They said she’d live in a shelter until she was 18. When they reunited, the daughter believed that and wanted nothing to do with her mom.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal)
July 26, 2018
It is unclear from the tweet when the mother and daughter were separated and how long they were apart before reunification. President Trump alleged that family separations would cease unless the adult posed an imminent danger to the child he or she was traveling with. But according to Jayapal, family separations haven’t stopped.
“We saw that family separation is still happening. Kids are in cages, if you’re over 10, you’re separated from your parents,” she told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“I’m ashamed of our government,” she added.
“The trauma that we have done to these kids is just crazy. It’s beyond politics, Wolf. It is about right in wrong, and kids in cages and separating families is just wrong, no matter what side of the isle you’re on.”
She later followed up on her original tweet to call the tactic “psychological terrorism.”
I can’t stop thinking about this mom and her child, and the many others who were told the same thing. For the Trump Administration to use family separation, these lies and all the associated traumas to children and parents as a deterrent is just psychological terrorism. https://t.co/7McBOtQBvu
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) July 27, 2018
Jayapal’s tweet was part of a series in which she recounted her visit to the place migrants are brought when they first arrive to the United States.
“Ports of entry, mass prosecutions in courthouses, cages holding children and families, adult detention centers, and shelters where some families have thankfully been released,” she wrote.
She described what she saw inside:
What we saw was horrifying:
– 70+ people being prosecuted en masse
– Mothers in cages who told us that Border Patrol only let them see their kids for 1 hour each day
– Kids in cages who had to sleep on mats on the ground
– Devastated parents
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) July 26, 2018
She also noted that 463 parents were already deported, presumably without their kids. This doesn’t account for kids who are separated from other caretakers.”
President Trump alleged that family separations would cease unless the adult posed an imminent danger to the child he or she was traveling with. But as recently as July 5th, a father who barely spoke Spanish says he was ripped apart from his 2-year-old daughter despite having her birth certificate with him.
Not much is known about what goes on within the walls of the detention centers. News cameras have not been permitted inside. When Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited one of the centers, many detainees were forced to wait outside until she left, so they didn’t have a chance to speak with her.
Several attorneys have shed some light on what they witness when meeting with clients, including Jodi Goodwin, who described to CNN the trauma children endure and its lasting effects upon being separated from their families. Reunions would be expected to be a happy time, but traumatized children often do not express joy.
“It’s very sad,” she said. “It takes them one or two minutes for them to reach over to their mothers.”
Separation is also a confusing time for parents and their families alike. According to a court filing by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), parents and children often arrive to facilities without their paperwork, saying it was taken away from them. Oftentimes, parents won’t even be aware of whether they had spoken with an immigration or deportation judge.