The undocumented immigrant from Honduras sobbed as she told an attorney Tuesday how federal authorities took her daughter while she breastfed the child in a detention center, where she was awaiting prosecution for entering the country illegally.
When the woman resisted, she was handcuffed, Natalia Cornelio, the attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, recalled from her interview with the woman, who had been detained under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy to refer anyone caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution.Since the policy was announced in May, some 500 children have been separated from their parents within the last month, according to Miguel A. Nogueras, an assistant federal public defender for the Southern District of Texas in McAllen, citing an unofficial count by an attorney in his office.Some parents who are under arrest tell public defenders they don’t know what happened to their children, Nogueras said. Some parents also claim they have been told their children are being taken to be bathed or cleaned up, then the adults don’t see them again.“The government is essentially torturing people by doing this,” Cornelio said.In an interview outside the federal courthouse in McAllen, Nogueras said: “It depends on who the agent is on that day. They’ll be told, ‘We’re going to separate your kids so they can bathe.’ And that’s not true.”He added: “It’s really hard to look in the eye of a mother or father who would plead for you — help me get my child back.”US Customs and Border Protection did not return calls to address Nogueras’ claims.Inside the crowded federal courtroom, another undocumented Honduran immigrant stood in shackles Tuesday pleading with a judge preparing to sentence him for illegally entering the United States.Authorities had separated Oman Rodriguez-Avila from his 8-year-old daughter when they caught him and other immigrants crossing the border a day earlier.“I would ask that you give me a short sentence because my daughter is here,” he told a judge in Spanish, speaking through a translator.The federal judge sentenced Rodriguez-Avila to 15 days in jail because Rodriguez-Avila was previously convicted for the same misdemeanor offense in 2012 and deported.
Cornelio recalled how quickly the tears flowed when the Civil Rights Project interviewed immigrants, whose children had been taken from them, after their arrest for illegally entering the country.“All the women would start crying and would need to take a couple of minutes before being able to continue talking about it,” Cornelio said.This week, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department’s Southern District of Texas said her office could not comment on the number of parents who had been separated from their children or how families were separated because of the zero-tolerance policy.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an initiative on Wednesday aimed at boosting the Justice Department’s role protecting religious institutions from cumbersome zoning rules.
“Under the laws of this country, government cannot discriminate against people based on their religion — not in law enforcement, not in grant-making, not in hiring and not in local zoning laws,” Sessions said in a statement announcing the Place to Worship Initiative.
The announcement said the Justice Department would expand awareness of a 2000 law to shield religious institutions from overly restrictive zoning regulations and would provide “additional training and resources for federal prosecutors,” with an inaugural community outreach event in New Jersey later this month.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’