Things That Matter

Separated Children Say Life In Detention Centers Included Cleaning Toilets, No Crying, And Daily Threats

A federal judge ordered families to be reunited after Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy illegally detained them at the border. The Trump administration has not fulfilled the legal order but those who have been reunited are speaking out about alleged abuse. Here are some of the first accounts of what they experienced inside those makeshift detention centers.

Several children — who have been released — have spoken out about what it was like inside detention centers.

While hundreds of kids have already been reunited with at least one parent, thousands more remain in detention centers. The Trump Administration was given a July 10 deadline to return children five and under, which it did not meet, and a July 26 deadline for all children 17 and under.

According to the a U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) official, there are still 2,551 separated minors, aged 5-17, currently in government custody, and the government alleges to have parental matches for 2,480 of them.

The kids faced strict rules while being detained including no crying, no touching, no misbehaving.

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Some of the kids said that if they broke any rules, authorities there would threaten to keep them in detention longer.

“They told me, ‘If you keep doing that, you’re going to have to stay here until you’re 18,'” a 9-year-old named Diogo De Olivera Filho, a Brazilan national, told The Washington Post about his habit of sleeping late.

Outrage over the situation has grown after children opened up about being forced to scrub the floor and clean toilets in order to get their breakfast.

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According to the New York Times, the children’s duties included mopping the bathroom, scrubbing the sinks and toilets. Then they were able to “form a line for the walk to breakfast.”

“You had to get in line for everything,” Leticia, a young girl from Guatemala told The New York Times.

Another child was reportedly injected with something because he was acting out.

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A boy said that his friend from Guatemala was injected because “he would destroy things,” the New York Times reports.

When he was given these injections, he just passed out and went to sleep.

No one has been charged or accused of abuse, but some of the kids are returning to their parents with apparent bruises.

About these allegations, Mark Weber, a spokesman for the HHS, told The Washington Post that their “focus is always on the safety and best interest of each child.”

“These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and HHS treats its responsibility for each child with the utmost care,” Weber told the Post. “Any allegation of abuse is taken seriously” and, “after being investigated by the department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, ‘appropriate action is taken.'”

Political officials and immigration advocates are speaking out about the alleged abuse.

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Lawyer and president of the Covenant House, an organization that houses homeless kids, Kevin Ryan tweeted that if American kids were treated this way inside shelters they would immediately get shut down.

Cynthia Nixon, a gubernatorial candidate in New York tweeted her disdain of the treatment of these kids.

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These are among the first accounts from the children who lived these experiences. As more are reunited, more stories will be told. Mitú will publish updated stories as this accounts come to light.


READ: Here’s Why Advocates Are Concerned About The US Using DNA To Reunite Families Separated At The Border

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Five Migrant Girls Were Found Left Alone And Abandoned In The Texas Heat

Things That Matter

Five Migrant Girls Were Found Left Alone And Abandoned In The Texas Heat

This past March, according to El Pais, migrants crossed the Rio Grande at an all-time high not seen in the past 15 years. US government reports underlined that a total of 171,000 people arrived at the southern border of the United States in March. Eleven percent were minors who made the journey by themselves.

Reports say that this vulnerable group will continue to grow in size with recent shifts in the Biden administration child immigration policies. Five migrants girls recently found by the river recently became part of this group.

An onion farmer in Quemado recently reported that he found five migrant girls on his land.

The girls were each under the age of seven, the youngest was too small to even walk. Three of the girls are thought to be from Honduras, the other two are believed to have come from Guatemala.​ Jimmy Hobbs, the farmer who found the girls, said that he called the Border Patrol gave the children aid by giving them water and food and putting them in the shade.

“I don’t think they would have made it if I hadn’t found them,” Hobbs told US Rep. Tony Gonzalez (R-Texas) in a New York Post. “Because it got up to 103 yesterday.”

“My thoughts are that it needs to stop right now. There are going to be thousands. This is just five miles of the Rio Grande,” Hobbs’ wife added in their conversation with Gonzalez. “That’s a huge border. This is happening all up and down it. It can’t go on. It’s gonna be too hot. There’ll be a lot of deaths, a lot of suffering.” 

“It is heartbreaking to find such small children fending for themselves in the middle of nowhere,” Chief Border Patrol Agent Austin Skero II explained of the situation in an interview with ABC 7 Eyewitness News. “Unfortunately this happens far too often now. If not for our community and law enforcement partners, these little girls could have faced the more than 100-degree temperatures with no help.”

According to reports, the Customs and Border Protection stated that the five girls​ ​will be processed and placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.​

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A Group of Volunteer ‘Fairy Godmothers’ Threw a Lavish Quinceañera For This Homeless Teen Girl

Things That Matter

A Group of Volunteer ‘Fairy Godmothers’ Threw a Lavish Quinceañera For This Homeless Teen Girl

Photo via Getty Images

For most Latinas, having a quinceañera is a right-of-passage. Your quinceañera is the official milestone that proves you’re finally a woman. It’s a party that you look forward to your entire childhood. It’s that one time in your life that you, and only you, get to feel like a princess.

Unfortunately, not every girl has the luxury of having a quinceañera. Some girls’ families don’t have the finances to throw a huge party.

In Miami, a group of “fairy godmothers” organized a quinceañera for a homeless teen girl whose family recently emigrated from Mexico.

The girl, Adriana Palma, had moved with her family from Mexico to Miami in early 2020. But because of the pandemic, her father lost his job. Adriana, her parents, and her three younger brothers spent the next four months living in their SUV.

Relocating to another country is hard enough, but Adriana faced another challenge by being homeless, struggling to learn English, and chasing down random Wi-Fi signals in order to complete her homework assignments. It was a struggle, to say the least.

And to make matters worse, Adriana’s fifteenth birthday was coming up. Adrian’s parents told her that, since they were homeless, they wouldn’t be able to throw her a quinceañera. “We will be together as a family,” her mother, Itzel Palma, told her. “That will be my gift to you.”

Luckily, the Palma family had a group of guardian angels watching out for them. Being homeless wouldn’t prevent Adriana from having a quinceañera.

A charity called Miami Rescue Mission had already hooked up the Palmas with a small apartment for the family to get back on their feet. “Cover Girls”, a subgroup of the Miami Rescue Mission, dedicate their time to help women and children who are in tough circumstances.

When Lian Navarro, leader of the Cover Girls, found out about Adriana’s situation, she knew she had to help. Cuban-Amercian herself, Navarro knew how important quinceañeras are to young Latinas. She called up her group of volunteers and they got to work making Adriana’s dream come true.

The 60 “fairy godmothers” decided to throw Adriana the quinceañera of her dreams in a local Miami church. They settled on a theme: Paris.

The volunteers decorated the bare church in gold Eiffel towers, supplied pink macarons and French pastries, they topped off each table with a floral centerpiece. They gifted Adriana with every item on her wish list. Not to mention, Adriana was able to be dressed up in a frilly pink quinceañera dress. Her hair and makeup were professionally done. A professional photographer captured her special day.

“We want them to have these memories,” said Cover Girl volunteer, Tadia Silva, about children and teens who grow up homeless. “They have to believe they are worth all that because they are.”

After her beautiful quinceañera, Adriana appeared to know her true worth. At the end of the party, she gave her “fairy godmothers” personalized notes of thanks. “I felt like a princess,” she said.

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