Two immigrant children were not able to recognize their mothers after reunion in Phoenix

Talks about the separation of families at the U.S. border seem to have decreased as family reunions have started to occur. However, the impact that the experience has had in the children must be acknowledged. One example was the case of two mothers waiting for their children in Phoenix, who were not recognized by their respective children and were heartbroken during the reunion.

The mothers, both in their early thirties, had been waiting for several months to see their children back in their arms. One of them witnessed a particularly shocking scene, where her daughter tried to escape from her embrace and go back with the shelter’s social worker. The reunions were done by the Trump administration, which released the families temporarily to reunite them and kept them in constant tracking. Not all families have been reunited, as the order from a California federal judge called for families to be reunited merely 20 days after the ruling. As part of the legislation, U.S. immigration officials have also stopped referring immigrant families with children to prosecution.

According to the director of the ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, “Parents with children under the age of 5 are being reunited with their children and then released and enrolled into an alternative detention program.” Not only did the ICE and the HHS department struggle to reunite many of the children under 5 years old, but many of the reunions that did happen were mishandled. Parents were faced with possibly-changing pickup and drop-off times for their children and last-minute background checks from the HHS.

The reunions on Phoenix were filled with heartbreaking scenes. The two children who didn’t recognize their mothers were now calling each other brother and sister, since they had been held together while waiting. They took time to utter the word “mami” as recognition for their mothers. One of them had seemingly forgotten how to use the toilet by himself, and had gone back to diapers during these months.

The “zero tolerance” policy that caused for the separations to happen still remains operating and prosecuting all adults who enter the U.S. illegally. The department continues to prosecute all the cases that are brought to them by immigration officials. Attorney General and Vice-President Mike Pence have both stated that they hope the legislation will discourage people from entering the country and “endangering their children”.

Many people disagree with the way that the Trump administration approached the solution of this situation. The fact that President Trump attempted to frame a change in legislation as something that was out of his handling, yet then went on to write an executive order immediately was seen as very unethical. Also, the lack of a public apology from either the president or his close colleagues in general  was seen as unacceptable.

In fact, prior to the order’s signing, the White House was quite adamant in not taking the blame or showing regret towards the family separations, arguing that it was the parents’ fault because they endangered the children by coming to the country the way they did. They also mentioned several times that the administration and the ICE were merely enforcing the law.

Some have even gone as far as to mention that the Trump administration directly manufactured the current immigration crisis. American Civil Liberties Union Chris Rickerd stated:

Border residents and people around the country realize it’s this administration making people stand in the sun, waiting to cross into the United States. It’s this administration separating children from their families. And it’s this administration taking this zero-tolerance policy stance when illegal immigration numbers historically have declined.”


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