Girl Describes Conditions Inside Immigrant Detention Center

On the heels of reports regarding the conditions inside migrant detention facilities, Time posted a video interview with an anonymous 12-year-old girl who opened up about the nearly two weeks she spent in a center in Texas.

“They gave us little food,” the little girl sys of her time at the facility. “They didn’t bathe [the children]. They treated us badly where we were. They were mean to us.”

She goes on to say that many of the children fell ill and didn’t receive proper medical care. “They said they’d take them to hospitals, but they wouldn’t take them,” she explained.

Learn more at ColorLines

Muslim American girls need to see their role models reflected in the spotlight, too

Muslim American children have always had a scarcity of role models, but this fact didn’t really make an impression on me until recently. Back from a recent author trip to Chicago, where I’d visited the lovely Anderson’s Bookstore, I handed my daughter her gift. It was an illustrated biography collection with 27 famous women — one for each letter of the alphabet. She squealed and quickly rifled through the pages, flipping to M for Malala and B for Benazir Bhutto. “Those are the only Muslim ones,” she told me, smiling a little with sad eyes.

“We’ll read this together at bedtime,” I promised her. It’s been a tradition in my house since the first such book was published around the 2016 election, when we discovered the original “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.” That book signaled the start of a trend geared mostly toward girls: collected biographies with popping art, catering to a younger audience. It’s been followed by a plethora of similar books based on race, field of study and even immigrant status. My personal favorite remains “First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great.”

Read more at The Washington Post

The girl who died in Border Patrol custody was healthy before she arrived, father says

The 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in U.S. Border Patrol custody was healthy before she arrived, and her family is now calling for an “objective and thorough” investigation into her death, a representative for the family said Saturday.

In a statement, the family’s attorneys disputed reports that the girl, Jakelin Caal, went several days without food and water before crossing the border, which contradicts statements by the Department of Homeland Security. Ruben Garcia, founder and executive director of Annunciation House — an El Paso-based nonprofit that aids migrants — said that the girl’s father, 29-year-old Nery Caal, said she was healthy and had no preexisting conditions.

“He’s been very clear, very consistent that his daughter was healthy, and his daughter very much wanted to come with him,” Garcia said during the news conference.

Read more at The Washington Post

14 and Alone: The Girls Risking Everything to Get to America

Singing happily into the wind, 14-year-old Karla Vazquez looks like a carefree teenager embarking on a day trip. It is an exciting moment after all – it’s the first time the youngster has ever left home and the first time she has traveled alone.

But the reality is chilling – she may not know it, but Karla is embarking on a path that for many young women ends in rape, abuse and forced prostitution. She is no longer free – she is now “human cargo” under the control of a people smuggler who is guiding her group on a truck from Guatemala to Mexico, with the US border their ultimate destination.

But she does not appear to be perturbed as she braves the perilous mountain paths in the naive hope of securing a better future for her family.

Read more at SkyNews. 

They Were Stopped at the Texas Border. Their Nightmare Had Only Just Begun.

The Border Patrol agent, she remembers, was calm when he tied her to the tree and put silver duct tape over her mouth. He said very little.

She was a 14-year-old undocumented immigrant who had just crossed the Rio Grande, traveling with a teenage friend and the friend’s mother from Honduras. They had hoped to surrender to the Border Patrol and stay in the United States.

But instead of taking them in for processing, the agent, Esteban Manzanares, had driven them to an isolated, wooded area 16 miles outside the border city of McAllen, Tex. There he sexually assaulted the friend and viciously attacked her and her mother, twisting their necks, slashing their wrists and leaving them, finally, to bleed in the brush. Then he led the 14-year-old girl to the tree.

“I only asked him why he was doing this,” she recalled. “Why me? He would only say that he had been thinking about it for days. He had been thinking about this for days.”

Read more at The New York Times 

Separated by Trump, All a Little Girl Remembers About America: ‘They Took My Dad and Locked Him Up’

With an impish smile, 5-year old Filomena draws up her right hand and fashions herself into a cattle driver. She designates her three-year old cousin the unenviable role of bull. “The bull that’s going to the United States,” Filomena proclaims in Spanish, directing her cousin-turned-bull through the family’s one-room, floorless wooden hut.

It’s unclear whether she thinks the U.S. is a promised land or something more sinister.

To Filomena’s family, it’s both: The country where one person can earn twice as much in one hour on minimum wage as the entire family makes in a day selling potatoes. The country where four Border Patrol officers forcibly separated Filomena from her father and then sent her to live for nearly three months in a shelter in New York City before deporting her. The country Filomena’s father would like to return to even after being wrenched from his daughter, because despite everything that happened, and even though he would like to remain with his family intact in Guatemala, he sees no hope.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

The Five-Year-Old Who Was Detained at the Border and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights

Helen—a smart, cheerful five-year-old girl—is an asylum seeker from Honduras. This summer, when a social worker asked her to identify her strengths, Helen shared her pride in “her ability to learn fast and express her feelings and concerns.” She also recounted her favorite activities (“playing with her dolls”), her usual bedtime (“8 p.m.”), and her professional aspirations (“to be a veterinarian”).

In July, Helen fled Honduras with her grandmother, Noehmi, and several other relatives; gangs had threatened Noehmi’s teen-age son, Christian, and the family no longer felt safe. Helen’s mother, Jeny, had migrated to Texas four years earlier, and Noehmi planned to seek legal refuge there. With Noehmi’s help, Helen travelled thousands of miles, sometimes on foot, and frequently fell behind the group. While crossing the Rio Grande in the journey’s final stretch, Helen slipped from their raft and risked drowning. Her grandmother grabbed her hand and cried, “Hang on, Helen!” When the family reached the scrubland of southern Texas, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended them and moved them through a series of detention centers. A month earlier, the Trump Administration had announced, amid public outcry over its systemic separation of migrant families at the border, that it would halt the practice. But, at a packed processing hub, Christian was taken from Noehmi and placed in a cage with toddlers. Noehmi remained in a cold holding cell, clutching Helen. Soon, she recalled, a plainclothes official arrived and informed her that she and Helen would be separated. “No!” Noehmi cried. “The girl is under my care! Please!”

Noehmi said that the official told her, “Don’t make things too difficult,” and pulled Helen from her arms. “The girl will stay here,” he said, “and you’ll be deported.” Helen cried as he escorted her from the room and out of sight. Noehmi remembers the authorities explaining that Helen’s mother would be able to retrieve her, soon, from wherever they were taking her.

Read more at The New Yorker. 

Justice Dept., in DC Circuit, Denies ‘Undue Burden’ on Immigrant Girls Seeking Abortions

An earlier ruling from Brett Kavanaugh against a pregnant immigrant teenager became a flashpoint for his views on the lawfulness of the right to an abortion.

A U.S. Justice Department lawyer, arguing Wednesday for the Trump administration, rejected claims that the government has imposed any “undue burden” on the ability of pregnant, undocumented minors from having access to abortions while in government custody.

Read more at The National Law Journal.

Immigrants, Fearing Trump Crackdown, Drop Out of Nutrition Programs

Both documented and undocumented immigrants fear that accepting federal aid could make them ineligible for a green card if rules are changed.

Immigrants are turning down government help to buy infant formula and healthy food for their young children because they’re afraid the Trump administration could bar them from getting a green card if they take federal aid.

Local health providers say they’ve received panicked phone calls from both documented and undocumented immigrant families demanding to be dropped from the rolls of WIC, a federal nutrition program aimed at pregnant women and children, after news reports that the White House is potentially planning to deny legal status to immigrants who’ve used public benefits. Agencies in at least 18 states say they’ve seen drops of up to 20 percent in enrollment, and they attribute the change largely to fears about the immigration policy.

The Trump administration hasn’t officially put the policy in place yet, but even without a formal rule, families are already being scared away from using services, health providers say.

Read more at Politico.

A 5-Year-Old Girl in Immigrant Detention Nearly Died of an Untreated Ruptured Appendix

The death of a Guatemalan child soon after leaving immigration detention made national news this week amid speculation that conditions in detention were responsible for her demise. It is not clear why 19-month-old Mariee Juárez became fatally ill, or if she suffered medical neglect at the South Texas Residential Center, the family detention center better known as “Dilley.” Her family alleges that Mariee became ill due to unsafe conditions and died as a result of medical neglect.

At a different South Texas detention center, another young Guatemalan child recently came down with a common illness that is easy to identify in its early stages but which can kill if not diagnosed and treated. Treatment was delayed for days, however, and the delay put the little girl’s life at risk. And less than three months before that little girl became sick, a Honduran man who spent time at the same facility died from a life-threatening illness that was not diagnosed.

The child and the man were locked up at the infamous Border Patrol detention center in McAllen, Texas, where immigrants are kept for a few days before they are transported to long-term detention centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The McAllen center is notorious for putting detainees in cage-like rooms and, during the recent “zero tolerance” period, for separating parents from their children. Immigrants know it as “the icebox” and “the dog pound.”

Read more at The Intercept.