Debbie Nathan, a reporter for The Intercept, discovered a photo showing 40 immigrants lined up for a mass trial in a Texas courtroom.
It used to be that when parents entered the country illegally with their children that the well-being of the children was kept top-of-mind, and that their well-being included remaining with their parents.
Nowadays, our government is enforcing a “zero-tolerance” policy and is confiscating all immigrant children from their parents, even if they are seeking asylum.
Nathan has sat in on the court sessions in which the immigrants plead their cases and has discovered that our government has resorted to trying dozens of individuals at the same time for the sake of speeding up deportations.
Although it is illegal to photograph a trial in a federal courtroom, an unidentified source who felt “morally conflicted” did exactly that and took a photo of a mass trial being conducted and subsequently leaked the photo.
In her heart-wrenching piece for The Intercept, titled “Hidden Horrors of ‘Zero Tolerance’ — Mass Trials And Children Taken from Their Parents,” Nathan describes in painful detail the proceedings within the Brownsville courtroom, noting that the presiding judge frequently hears trials of 35-40 defendants simultaneously.
Oftentimes, the judge has two hours or less to speak with all the defendants, leaving each individual with just minutes to plead their case.
Almost without exception, the defendants plead guilty because they see no other option.
Nathan writes that in the span of just one week last month, she encountered six people whose children had been taken from them.
She tells the story of a woman from Central America who requested that her identity remain undisclosed due to the violence she has faced in her home country.
She described to Nathan how she turned herself and her child into Border Patrol so that she could seek asylum. Instead, she was arrested and her child was taken from her.
The woman, called Delia, says that Border Patrol agents told her she would be deported, but that her child would remain in the U.S.
Nathan described Delia as being in shock, unable to concentrate, and weeping endlessly.
By threatening asylum seekers and would-be-refugees with the promise of taking their children, the U.S. government is not only violating the human rights of immigrants and their children, but is also pursuing a policy of inhumane and immoral intimidation that is wholly beneath the values that this country has stood for for so long.
And by doing away with due process by funneling dozens of immigrants through the legal pipeline at the same time, thereby depriving them of equal representation under the law, the U.S. government is almost certainly violating the constitution.
According to Erika Guevara-Rosas, director at Amnesty International, the United States is also violating refugee law.
“[Separating children from their parents is] a flagrant violation of their human rights. Doing so in order to push asylum seekers back into dangerous situations where they may face persecution is also a violation of U.S. obligations under refugee law.”
Whether or not that holds any weight in today’s world is yet to be seen.
Iron Triangle Press will continue to cover this story.
To read our original coverage surrounding the removal of immigrant children from their parents’ custody, click here.