President Trump's immigration policies have produced no shortage of ghastly stories from migrants about how they're treated, but this is one of the most chilling: CNN reports that in Texas, immigration officials reportedly took an undocumented woman's baby from her as she was breastfeeding the child, then handcuffed her as she resisted. According to a local public defender, she's one of over 650 parents who've been separated from their children since the Trump administration ramped up its crackdown on immigrant families caught crossing the border.
Miguel A. Nogueras, an assistant federal public defender for the Southern District of Texas in McAllen, told CNN that some of the migrant parents have no idea what happened to their children after immigration official separated them and never saw their children again.
"It depends on who the agent is on that day," Nogueras said. [Parents will] be told, 'We're going to separate your kids so they can bathe.' And that's not true."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in May that the administration would begin separating undocumented families who cross the border illegally, explaining in an interview that "if people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them." When pressed by NPR on the morality of the policy, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said that he isn't worried about the children, as they'll be "put into foster care or whatever."
The Trump administration's immigration policies have resulted in countless horror stories about the treatment of migrants at the hands of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Just one month after Trump took office, ICE agents arrested an undocumented trans woman at a Texas courthouse when she was seeking a protective order against her alleged abuser. Nine months later, Think Progress reported that an undocumented immigrant was detained during his green card interview, with ICE agents reportedly ejecting the man's attorney and interpreter from the room.
The Los Angeles Times reported in August that in California, immigration officials have twice shown up at labor dispute hearings to apprehend undocumented immigrants who filed complaints against their employers. In May, the Trump administration deported an undocumented high school student who was taken to America when he was three years old; weeks later, he was murdered in Mexico.
In an alarming revelation, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs released a report in January revealing that the Department of Health and Human Services had placed eight undocumented children in the care of human traffickers, who then forced the kids into forced labor on an egg farm in Ohio.
It was also reported by the New York Times in April that immigration officials lost track of 1,475 undocumented children that ICE apprehended at the border. There was more nuance to that story than initially reported, however. The "missing" children had been placed in the custody of households that didn't answer to the government's follow-up calls, but as a lawyer at the Fair Punishment project explained, this may have been because other members of those households were undocumented, and wanted to limit their interaction with government officials for fear of being deported.
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the administration's policies regarding undocumented families at a Senate hearing in March, telling senators that undocumented children who cross the border have "broken U.S. law."
"My decision has been that anyone who breaks the law will be prosecuted," Nielsen said. "If you’re a parent or you’re a single person or you happen to have a family, if you cross between the ports of entry, we will refer you for prosecution. You have broken U.S. law."