The audio of 10 Central American children, sobbing and freshly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, spans just seven minutes, and yet it’s difficult to listen through to the end.
“I don’t want them to stop my father,” one child cries in Spanish at the U.S.-Mexico border. “I don’t want them to deport him.”
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An audio recording recently obtained by ProPublica depicts children from several countries crying desperately for their parents as consular workers and border agents attempt to calm them down.
Pleas for “Mami” and “Papi” can be heard between the sobs, interjected with the voice of a border patrol agent and fellow consular workers.
“Well, we have an orchestra here, right?” the border agent says. “What we’re missing is a conductor.”
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A much-contested Trump administration policy, which mandates taking undocumented immigrant children from their parents at the border and putting them in U.S. government facilities, has sparked outrage from Trump’s opponents in recent weeks, though Trump loyalists remain steadfast in their support.
ProPublica states in its reporting that the audio was taken at a US Customs and Border Protection detention facility. The individual who made the recording gave the clip to civil rights attorney Jennifer Harbury, who then reportedly gave it to ProPublica.
One Salvadorian girl can be heard clearly on the recording, insisting that the consular worker call her aunt, and even proceeds to recite part of her aunt’s phone number — which she has memorized.
“At least can I go with my aunt? I want her to come. I want my aunt to come so she can take me to her house. I have her number,” the six-year-old girl said.
“Are you going to call my aunt, so that when I’m done eating she can pick me up?” she attempted a second time.
The consular worker begins to respond, saying that once the girl had finished her food, they would come back. However, the worker is cut off by the girl rattling off her aunt’s phone number.
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“I have her number memorized. 3-4-7-2-,” she began.
“My mommy says I’ll go with my aunt and that she’ll pick me up there, as quickly as possible, so I can go with her,” she added one last time.
Over 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the border since Trump administration officials launched a zero-tolerance U.S. immigration policy, announced in recent weeks by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The policy calls for prosecuting everyone who attempts to enter the country illegally and separating them from any children they may have brought with them.
According to ProPublica, more than 100 of those children are under the age of four.
Later on in the audio clip, border agents ask where each child is from, who then begin listing a variety of countries. Some of these include Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
The policy has attracted swift condemnation in the media, as well as from both fellow and former politicians. Hillary Clinton called the policy a “moral and humanitarian crisis.” Former first lady Laura Bush called the administration’s practices “cruel” and “immoral.”
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Democrats and Republicans alike have spoken out against these practices, though the Trump administration has maintained that it’s simply enforcing the laws already in existence.
Sessions said Monday that “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws.” This sentiment was echoed in a statement released by a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson in a statement to ProPublica.
According to a recent poll conducted by CNN, two thirds of Americans disapprove of the Trump administration immigration policy, whereas only 28 per cent of Americans approve.
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