Exactly 528 migrant children continue to remain under U.S. custody, despite a federal judge’s court order. For some children who have been returned to their parents, like 3-year-old Sammy, reunions have been anything but joyous. When he saw his mom for the first time in three months, it was like he was seeing a stranger.
“I’m your mommy, sweetheart, I’m your mommy,” she cried as the boy tried to squirm out of her arms. He got away. She turned, weeping to her husband: “Ever, what’s wrong with my son?” Her husband Ever, holding their 5-month-old daughter, said nothing as the boy crawled to a wall, turned around, and looked at his mom with no expression. When she again attempted to hold him, the boy again rushed away. “What happened … my son is traumatized, Ever,” she cried.
What happened was that the Trump administration kidnapped nearly 3,000 children from the arms of migrant parents at the U.S./Mexico border, with no plan on how or when to ever reunite them again and no care for their emotional well-being. Officials have released more than 2,000 kids, but only because they were forced to by the court. Still, despite Judge Dana Sabraw’s July 26 reunification deadline, hundreds remain in U.S. custody, and at ongoing risk of life-long trauma.
“There is no greater threat to a child’s emotional well-being,” University of Houston psychology professor Johanna Bick said according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “than being separated from a primary caregiver. Even if it was for a short period, for a child, that’s an eternity.”