By Eoin Higgins
The U.S. held a record 69,550 migrant children in detention facilities in 2019, a Tuesday report from The Associated Press and PBS Frontline found, leading to major psychological and physical harm and lasting trauma.
“No other country held as many immigrant children in detention over the past year as the United States—69,550,” said AP tech reporter Frank Bajak in a tweet promoting his colleagues’ work. “The physical and emotional scars are profound.”
No other country held as many immigrant children in detention over the past year as the United States _ 69,550. The physical and emotional scars are profound. @chrisshermanap @garanceburke @mendozamartha @frontlinepbs https://t.co/XTW2iBAQ6b
— Frank Bajak (@fbajak) November 12, 2019
The story lays out in excruciating detail the emotional pain of victims of President Donald Trump’s child separation policy, focusing on, among others, a Honduran father whose three-year-old daughter can no longer look at him or connect with him after being separated at the U.S. border and abused in foster care.
“I think about this trauma staying with her too, because the trauma has remained with me and still hasn’t faded,” the father told AP.
The 3-year-old Honduran girl was taken from her father when immigration officials caught them near the border in Texas in March 2019 and sent her to government-funded foster care. The father had no idea where his daughter was for three panicked weeks. It was another month before a caregiver put her on the phone but the girl, who turned four in government custody, refused to speak, screaming in anger.
“She said that I had left her alone and she was crying,” said her father during an interview with the AP and Frontline at their home in Honduras. “‘I don’t love you Daddy, you left me alone,’” she told him. The father agreed to speak about their case on condition of anonymity for safety reasons.
The AP/Frontline report also includes testimony from a number of teenagers who told their own harrowing tales.