What happened to the stories of children at the border, of babies in cages, of children never found after being separated from their parents? In the torrent of news around the pandemic, of protests, and of the mudslinging of the presidential campaign, those stories have disappeared. Not only are the stories missing from the front page, they cannot be found even on the back pages.
Outside of the traditional media, stories of abuse continue. A teenage girl with her baby fled Guatemala and arrived at the U.S. border this summer. She pleaded for help, stating that a man who raped her vowed to make her “disappear.” Despite her pleas, she was taken into custody by the U.S. government and held for several days in a hotel, with little outside contact. According to Pro Publica, she was expelled from the country.
Like her, thousands of migrant children have been expelled by the Trump administration since March, without access to lawyers or family members.
The Trump administration cites the threat of COVID 19 as the reason for removing children as young as eight months from the border and returning them almost immediately. The word “deportation” is not used – and that’s by design. A “deportation” is a proceeding based on years of established law – a legal action that mandates a formal hearing in immigration court. By “expelling” the refugee, the Administration takes away the most basic of human rights. There is no lawyer, no social worker and no family member available while in the United States.
Lisa Frydman, Vice President of International Programs at Kids in Need of Defense, an advocacy group for migrant children, states, “We are only reaching a tiny fraction of these kids, the rest are just gone.”
According to a report from the Texas Tribune and Propublica, “Most children who now reach the United States are quickly flown back to their home countries, often to danger, forcing the intervention of international child welfare agencies to protect them from harm. Some children told advocates that they were sent to Mexico, in the middle of the night, even if they were not from there.”
Imagine your child, your grandchild. Six years old. Alone. In a country that they have never seen.