When he landed in Michigan in late May, all the weary little boy carried was a trash bag stuffed with dirty clothes from his dayslong trek across Mexico, and two small pieces of paper — one a stick-figure drawing of his family from Honduras, the other a sketch of his father, who had been arrested and led away after they arrived at the United States border in El Paso.
An American government escort handed over the 5-year-old child, identified on his travel documents as José, to the American woman whose family was entrusted with caring for him. He refused to take her hand. He did not cry. He was silent on the ride “home.”
The first few nights, he cried himself to sleep. Then it turned into “just moaning and moaning,” said Janice, his foster mother. He recently slept through the night for the first time, though he still insists on tucking the family pictures under his pillow.
José’s separation from his father is part of the Trump administration’s latest and most widely debated border enforcement policy. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the government would criminally prosecute everyone who crosses the border illegally, a directive that is already leading to the breakup of hundreds of migrant families and channeling children into shelters and foster homes across the country.
Since his arrival in Michigan, family members said, a day has not gone by when the boy has failed to ask in Spanish, “When will I see my papa?”
They tell him the truth. They do not know. No one knows.
José’s father is in detention, and parent and child until this week had not spoken since they were taken into the custody of United States authorities.
“I am watching history happen before my eyes. It’s horrendous,” said Janice, 53.
A reminder when you read one of those “poor Jeff Sessions is being picked on” stories:
Jeff Sessions is willing to endure constant humiliation from his boss *so that* he can separate terrified mothers fleeing violence from their even more terrified children.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 7, 2018
We are being governed by unbelievably horrible people.