“Immigrants and lawyers say the agency is trying to ‘coerce or confuse’ detainees into thinking deportation is the only way to get their kids back.”
From The Atlantic:
Lilian is getting desperate. Locked inside the sprawling Port Isabel Service Processing Center, she has not seen her 5-year-old daughter in more than two weeks, and now deportation officers are offering a deal: Drop your asylum claim and agree to be deported, they say, and we’ll let you see your daughter again.
On June 12, Lilian and her daughter, Victoria, spent the night in a chilly Border Patrol processing center after they crossed the border near Laredo, Texas. Two days later, because of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, agents took Lilian to a federal court, where she was convicted of illegal entry. Though she was sentenced to time served for the misdemeanor, by the time she was finished, a far more severe punishment was in motion.
While Lilian was in court, agents placed the 5-year-old Victoria in immigration proceedings of her own, and shipped her to a federal shelter near Miami. Now, inside the Port Isabel detention center, Lilian says agents have assured her that if she abandons her asylum claim and agrees to deportation, she will see her daughter as soon as she boards her flight to Honduras. But for Lilian, worse than the agony of separation is the fear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement will renege on its promise and instead deport her alone. “I don’t believe them,” she told me, and she has already rebuffed the agents twice. Her fear of permanent separation is not unfounded: John Sandweg, a former acting director of ice, told my colleague Priscilla Alvarez that permanent separation is a real possibility.