Things That Matter

These Kids Were Released From US Custody But They’re Sharing The Trauma They Experienced In Their Drawings

Word has been spreading fast about the conditions migrants face inside ICE and DHS detention centers. Thanks to a recent visit by AOC and other members of Congress, the cat’s out of the bag.

There have been reports of migrants being told to drink water from toilets, abuse from Border Patrol agents, women being denied medication, and so much more.

But it’s perhaps the news of children suffering in these migrant prisons that shocks us the most. And now, one group of children who were recently released are sharing their experiences with the world – through art.

Pediatricians shared pictures drawn by migrant children after being released from ⁦US custody.

Credit: @thehill / Twitter

Pediatricians recently released heartbreaking drawings, completed by children under the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, that show the grim realities of what these young migrants are facing as they’re being separated from their parents.

Doctors with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) were given the drawings, which show people behind bars and in cages, by a social worker at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas.

The pictures were drawn last week by unaccompanied 10 and 11-year-old migrant children after being released from ⁦Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. They were obtained by NBC News which said they were provided to the AAP by a social worker in Texas.

Since being released by the CBP, the migrant children have been staying at the Catholic Charities Center.

Credit: @kylegriffin1 / Twitter

It’s run by Sister Norma Pimentel and where many families go to “get their first shower, clean clothes and a hot meal after arriving in the U.S.”

While under the center’s care, the children were asked by a mental health clinician specializing in Latino child trauma at the center last week to depict their time under CBP custody on canvases, according to the organization.

Three of those illustrations — drawn by a 10-year-old boy from Guatemala, an 11-year-old from Guatemala, and another 10-year-old child — were then brought to the attention of the AAP due to their particularly alarming content.

Here’s one of the heartbreaking pictures…

Credit: @AmerAcadPeds / Twitter

Dr. Collen Kraft, a former president of the AAP, said the drawings were incredibly heartbreaking, in part due to these children feeling like they were behind bars.

“The fact that the drawings are so realistic and horrific gives us a view into what these children have experienced,” Kraft told the outlet. “When a child draws this, it’s telling us that the child felt like he or she was in jail.”

AAP says it was not immediately clear which CBP facilities housed these children. They also mentioned in an interview with CNN that they are working with CBP officers to advise on properly screening and caring for children in their custody, but have made little progress after multiple meetings.

Reactions on Twitter have been swift and full of shock, heartbreak, and anger.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

Some users took to Twitter to call what these kids went through what many are starting to call them – concentration camps.

You have Jews coming out and saying they stand by the use of the phrase because their community’s trauma from World War II helps them recognize the signs.

While others pointed out the disturbing reality that many of these kids may never be the same after the trauma they’ve suffered.

Credit: @CNN

And, unfortunately, there’s little surprise there. I mean many of these kids have literally been kept in cages, separated from their families, denied basic necessities like tooth brushes and soap.

While many just summed up how most of us are feeling about the news…

Credit: @TIME

I mean seriously, these are young children. Separated from their families. And they’re suffering greatly because of the Trump administration’s inhumane and dangerous immigration policies.

The alarming drawings come one week after a heartwrenching photograph surfaced of a father and daughter’s dead bodies washed up on a riverbank after they attempted to cross the border from Mexico to the United States together.

Like the children’s illustrations from this week, the graphic photo has been used to highlight the cruel realities that many families are currently facing as they put their lives on the line to seek asylum from the violence and poverty in their home nations.

READ: More Migrant Children Were Separated From Their Families Than The US Government Admitted To

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10-Year-Old Boy Found Crying Alone Near Border Had Been Deported And Kidnapped With His Mom

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10-Year-Old Boy Found Crying Alone Near Border Had Been Deported And Kidnapped With His Mom

Anyone who has watched this video of a 10-year-old boy asking a Border Patrol officer for help through tears, can admit just how heartbreaking it is. The boy says he was left alone while traveling with a group across the border when they abandoned him.

But now his family is speaking out and sharing the backstory to the emotional video that further highlights just how urgently the crisis at the border needs to be addressed.

Video of a 10-year-old boy wandering near the border quickly went viral for how heartbreaking it was.

A heartbreaking video shared last week by Customs and Border Protection of an unnamed 10-year-old boy found wandering alone in Texas underscored how desperate the situation is on the southern border. The video showed a young Nicaraguan boy found on the side of a dirt road by an off-duty Border Patrol agent after wandering alone for four hours in the desert.

People reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection released footage of the incident, which happened on April 1 by a Rio Grande border patrol agent. The boy explains to the officer that he woke up and discovered that his group had left him behind. “I came looking because I didn’t know where to go, and they can also rob or kidnap me or something,” he told the officer. 

In a statement to the publication, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the agent “transported the child to a Border Patrol facility where he was fed and medically screened.”

But now we’re getting a better understanding of what led to this heartbreaking video.

Now, the boy’s family have described his plight to the Washington Post. Little 10-year-old Wilton Obregon and his mom crossed the border into Texas last month but were expelled under Title 42, a policy that releases migrants back to Mexico without letting them seek asylum.

Hours after they were sent back, they were kidnapped, according to Wilton’s Miami-based uncle, Misael Obregon. The kidnappers called him and demanded a $10,000 ransom but Misael could only pay $5,000 so the kidnappers only released Wilton. They dumped Wilton back at the border. Obregon said his sister is still in custody of the kidnappers. “Now I’m worried that she’s going to die,” he said.

In fact, the boys mom called Misael Obregon on Friday morning, crying after seeing the video of her son crying at the border.

The family’s plight highlights the need for reforms to Title 42.

During the campaign, President Biden complained about the humanitarian consequences of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced asylum seekers to wait for the their court hearings in Mexico. Many were forced to wait in dangerous refugee camps along the border that subjected them to human trafficking, violence, and sexual assault.

Under Title 42, though, which began under President Donald Trump and continues under Biden, asylum seekers are again in the same desperate situation. It’s unclear how many of them have been kidnapped.

“The Biden administration is winding down one of the Trump administration’s most notorious policies but at the same time it is expelling other asylum seekers back to the very same dangers, attacks and kidnappings through its continued use of the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy to evade U.S. refugee law,” Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First, said in a statement.

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Despite Promises, President Biden Looks To Reopen A Child Migrant Center Facing Sexual Assault Allegations

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Despite Promises, President Biden Looks To Reopen A Child Migrant Center Facing Sexual Assault Allegations

Since taking office in January, President Biden has been hard at work addressing everything from the nation’s COVID vaccine program and economic response to comprehensive immigration reform. However, several of his planned changes have hit major roadblocks as federal judges (many appointed by Trump) strike down his new policies.

But despite much of his administration’s progress on issues that affect the Latino and immigration communities, the administration is seriously considering reopening one of the country’s largest child migrant detention centers.

The Biden administration looks to reopen the Homestead facility for children.

The Biden administration is facing a sharp increase of unaccompanied child migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border and they’re considering reopening one of the nation’s most controversial detention centers.

The Miami Herald reported that the feds might reopen the Homestead site under the name Biscayne Influx Care Facility, an announcement that has caused outrage among advocates working towards ending the detention of children altogether.

“That place has a history of all kinds of abuse and profiting off the lock-up of children,” said Lis-Marie Alvarado, program director of the Miami-based organization American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which led the call for Homestead’s closure in 2019. A move to reopen the facility is “appalling and a slap to our faces,” she said.

The center has a troubling history of sexual assault allegations.

The facility was in the news in 2019 following shocking allegations of sexual abuse and prison-like conditions, which drew the condemnation of several Democratic candidates for president, including current Vice President Kamala Harris.

Detaining children, particularly in such dire conditions, “is a human rights abuse being committed by the United States government,” she told a small crowd. Harris later described seeing “children lined up like prisoners” as heartbreaking. 

Homestead first opened as a temporary shelter in 2016 under President Barack Obama, closed the following year, and was reactivated in 2018. Between March 2018 and August 2019, it housed more than 14,300 unaccompanied minors ranging from 13 to 17 years old, including dozens who had been torn from their parents under Trump’s policy of separating families. The average length of stay in the facility was 52 days by March 2019, with some minors spending almost four times as long.

The hypocrisy of the administration is truly frustrating.

Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In June 2019, then-Senator Kamala Harris (and candidate for president) visited the Homestead facility demanding that it be shut down. She, along with several other Democratic lawmakers, joined a series of rallies at the center to denounce Trump’s cruel immigration policies. The facility was subsequently shut down just a month later after mounting public pressure.

But now, a year and half later, the facility might be reopened under the Biden-Harris administration.

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