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‘My fear is that they won’t give me my children,’ says Honduran mother of unaccompanied minors

Texas, United States

“My biggest fear is that they won’t give me my kids“Says the anguished Honduran mother Ruth, who suffered greatly in the week it took her to find her two children and her little sister in a system saturated with thousands of unaccompanied children who are in the custody of the US Government.

Those days anticipated the long bureaucratic nightmare that he will have to face before being able to meet with the minors, 14, 10 and 9 years old, and he fears that problems may arise that make it impossible to fulfill the desire to meet with them again.

Ruth, who asked Efe not to reveal her last name for security reasons, counts the hours to be able to meet again with her children Denis, 10 years old, and Jeremy, 14 years old, and her sister Esther, 9 years old.

WITHOUT KNOWING WHERE THEY ARE

“All the way I insisted that they record my phone number, and they learned it, even my little sister,” insists the 37-year-old migrant.

Neither Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents nor Ruth’s children contacted her to tell her where they were on the Texas border.

This Wednesday, Ruth managed to speak with a CBP agent who told her that they were dealing with thousands of children and that the only thing she could tell her was that the three children were in the custody of border authorities.

“The system is incredibly complicated, if you don’t have the right tools it is a very difficult task to find the minors,” explains immigration lawyer Frances Arroyo, who helped Ruth take the first steps to find her children. .

The lawyer warns that the overwhelming arrival of unaccompanied children and immigrants to the border, added to the complexity and disorganization of the system, the little information and even the policies of the administration of former President Donald Trump are creating a traffic jam that could end up harming to minors.

This Thursday the Government reported that in March it had intercepted a record number of minors at the border unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

The 18,890 minors found last month, double the number in February (9,431), are only part of the 172,000 migrants intercepted in the border with Mexico and who, for the most part, are expelled from the country.

A SUFFERING THAT COSTS

In this sense, activist Nora Sandigo warns Efe that these children “are exposed to a feeling of abandonment. It tears them emotionally. “

Sandigo, who runs a foundation that cares for children and adolescents whose parents are detained and deported for reasons migratory, has had to diversify its objectives and become, these days, a link to help reunite the thousands of children who have arrived alone at the border.

An example of this “harsh reality” as defined by the activist is the “alopecia” suffered by a five-year-old Mexican girl who crossed the border with her 9-year-old sister to reunite with her mother who lives in Nebraska.

“The 5-year-old girl had holes in her head. Locks of hair had fallen out due to stress, ”says Sandigo, who accompanied the girls on their way from Houston to Nebraska to reunite with their mother last week.

Ruth is afraid that her sister will be separated from her children, because the little ones have become the main support of the 9-year-old girl.

But with the facilities saturated with minors who entered the country alone, the delivery time and the place where they will be sent under the custody of the Department of Health and Services (HHS), it is impossible to calculate how long they will be separated, Arroyo insists.

SUPPORTING THE CRITICISMS

The overwhelming arrival of unaccompanied children has generated a wave of criticism against the Biden administration, both from Republicans who assure that its immigration policy has generated the current arrival of migrants and from the same families who venture to start a hard journey with the hope to find open borders.

“They had no where to live, my parents’ house was washed away by the hurricane, and there was also a lot of violence,” argues Ruth about the reasons that led her family to emigrate.

He adds that his sons and his sister did not arrive alone at the border. The little ones came from the hand of their grandfather, who made the decision not to cross the Rio Grande with them, thinking that this way the little ones had more options to stay in the United States.

“He says that on that side of the river there were many families who had passed through and deported in less than a day. Even a lady who had a girl with Down syndrome. So he made the decision to send them alone ”, he says with a lump in his throat.

60% of those arrested at the border, a total of 103,900, were immediately expelled under the so-called “Title 42”, a measure established by former President Donald Trump and that, with the covid-19 pandemic as an argument, allows the Biden Government to expel solo adults and families with children over the age of 7.

Faced with the uncertainty of when she will be able to be reunited with her children at her home in San Bernardino, California, Ruth is compounded by the fact that her 53-year-old father has been missing at the border for more than a week, and she fears the worst .

“We don’t know where he is,” he says in a broken voice.

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