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World America 19 Jun 2018 Recording of crying ...

Recording of crying children at US border fuels fury over immigrant separations

Published Jun 19, 2018, 3:24 pm IST
Updated Jun 19, 2018, 3:24 pm IST
The audio includes the voices of children sobbing uncontrollably and asking for their parents.
Akemi Vargas, 8, cries as she talks about being separated from her father during an immigration family separation protest in front of the Sandra Day O'Connor US District Court building, in Phoenix. (Photo: AP)
 Akemi Vargas, 8, cries as she talks about being separated from her father during an immigration family separation protest in front of the Sandra Day O'Connor US District Court building, in Phoenix. (Photo: AP)

Washington: The Trump administration’s new rule of immigration enforcement policy in the US has resulted in separation of children from their parents.

ProPublica, a journalism non-profit organization, published what it claims was a recording taken inside one of the facilities run by US Customs and Border Protection, where children are staying after being taken from their parents.


The audio includes the voices of children sobbing uncontrollably and asking for their parents.

According to the recording, children have repeatedly been asking for their “papi (Spanish for father)”, “mami (mother)” or a relative and some had telephone numbers that they pleaded with consular officials to call.

The United States is already driven by an ongoing emotional debate regarding immigration and the recording only goes on to add fuel to an already burning fire. It has emerged as additional evidence to the reports, photographs, and documentations showing how hard the federal immigration policy playing out on families along the border.

According to ProPublica report, there are more than 2,300 children who have been separated from their parents as a result of the new policy to charge criminally every person caught crossing the border illegally.

ProPublica further adds that the audio clip contains sounds of 10 children from Central America who had been separated from their parents last week.

The children are estimated to be between 4 and 10 years old.

A Border Patrol agent said, "Well here we have an orchestra" over the sounds of sobbing.

ProPublica identified one of the children on recording who is a 6-year-old from El Salvador, asking for help to call her aunt, whose number she remembered.

The girl says, "My mommy says I'll go with my aunt and that she'll come to pick me up there as quickly as possible."

ProPublica called one of the numbers.

“It was the hardest moment in my life,” the relative, an aunt, said. “Imagine getting a call from your six-year-old niece. She’s crying and begging me to go get her. She says, ‘I promise I’ll behave, but please get me out of here. I’m all alone’,” the aunt added.

However, the authenticity of the audio remains to be verified.

Ginger Thompson, the Pulitzer-prize winning reporter and former New York Times bureau chief in Mexico City, who reported the piece, wrote that the audio was provided to her by Jennifer Harbury, a well-known civil rights attorney who has worked on border issues in Texas for decades.

Speaking to The Washington Post, Harbury told that the audio came from a whistleblower who had approached her for legal advice and declined to answer questions about CBP facility, citing client's privacy.

The recording played in White House’s news briefing room before the start of the daily briefing saw Kirstjen Nielsen, head of the department that oversees immigration and border security, aggressively defending the policy and flatly denying what was happening to these children amounted to “child abuse”.

“We have high standards. We give them meals and we give them education and we give them medical care. There are videos, there are TVs,” Nielsen said.

Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was questioned about the photos and reports that are published on the effects of family separations.

Nielsen said, "I think that they reflect the focus of those who post such pictures and narratives."

She added that there was no balanced view of what was happening, but added, “What's happening at the border is the border is being overrun by those who have no right to cross it.”

To comment on the new policy Nielsen said that people who have entered illegally are, by definition, are criminals and entering with children, they put their children at risk.

Stephen Engelberg, the editor-in-chief of ProPublica, told The Post that publishing the tape was a "straightforward decision."

Engelberg added that this is a matter of enormous public interest, access to the facilities is very limited and we feel that people need to know as much as possible about what's going in there.

The new policy on immigration has been criticised by people across the political spectrum, including conservatives and Republicans.

Rosalyn Carter, the wife of former Democratic president Jimmy Carter, became the newest and last of living former first ladies on Monday to make a rare policy intervention joining Laura Bush, wife of George W Bush, and Michelle Obama, wife of Barack Obama, to publicly oppose the Trump administration’s policy.