Things That Matter

A 3-Year-Old Was Told To Pick Which Parent To Be Separated From

This year has seen so much of what we would have never even imagined just a little over four years ago. Thanks to the strict and cruel policies under our current presidential administration, we’ve seen families separated from their underaged children at border stops, kids held in cages and women sexually assaulted and harassed by officers of the United States government. Xenophobia and racism are on the extreme uptick and just when you think we couldn’t stoop any lower as a country, a new report sets a new bar.

Sadly, the latest low involves a child that is just 3-years-old.

Parents from Honduras have recently accused an agent at a Border Patrol holding facility of asking their 3-year-old daughter to decide which one would be deported.

In a recent interview with NPR, a woman by the name of Tania said that she and her husband, who share three children together, experienced the bizarre abuse of their child in a holding facility in El Paso Texas. While detained, an agent told the family, which is from Honduras, that one of the parents would be sent to Mexico while the other would be kept in the United States with their three children. The two parents also have a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son.

“The agent asked her who she wanted to go with, mom or dad,” Tania told NPR through an interpreter. “And the girl, because she is more attached to me, she said mom. But when they started to take [my husband] away, the girl started to cry. The officer said, ‘You said [you want to go] with mom.'”

Tania says that she and her husband spent last week attempting to make deals with Border Patrol so that their family would not be separated.

Tania and her husband, Joseph, were working with a doctor who examined the 3-year-old, named Sofi, who had been given the burden of the harsh decision. The parents say that they pleaded with agents to not separate the family.

According to NPR Tania and her family came to the U.S. after they witnessed the murder of her mother. The news outlet reported last week that the family was sent back to Juárez, Mexico after crossing into El Paso in April and became part of the Trump administration program called Migrant Protection Protocols, which is also known as “remain in Mexico” and requires Central American migrants to wait in northern Mexico cities while their immigration cases are sorted out by the courts. More often than not, these cities are among the most dangerous in the country.

On top of everything, Sofi has an extreme heart condition.

According to NPR, Linda Rivas, the family’s lawyer and an employee of  Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center presented evidence from a Mexican health clinic that Sofi had suffered a heart attack. Stunned by the revelation Immigration Judge Nathan Herbert said that he didn’t have the authority to remove the family from MPP. However, he did ask the Department of Homeland Security lawyer to consider of Rivas’ evidence.

According to NPR, Sofi was examined by a doctor last week. The doctor told Border Patrol agents that she had had a serious heart condition and needed to stay in the country.

Tania told NPR that the agents “spoke to me at around 3 or 3:30 p.m., and they told me: ‘Sign here, because we are giving you and your children permission.’ And I said, ‘I came with the children’s father,’ and he said, ‘Not him. Only you and your children.’ And the doctor said it’s important for the family to stay [together], and even the doctor said ‘They entered as a family and they have to leave as a family.'”

According to the report, the agent had already made up their mind about the separation and it was then that Sofi was asked which parent she wanted to go with. According to Tania, the doctor who examined Sofi told her not to allow the agent to ask the little girl to make the decision, “because they don’t have the right to ask a minor.”

Eventually, the doctor was able to make a case for the family to be kept together to another agent. Fortunately, the family was released last Friday, together, to an El Paso migrant shelter.

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