“You can’t imagine the pain,” Dennis said. “If you’re not a dad, you don’t know what it’s like.” I reached Dennis by phone in a small town in the Copán Department of Honduras, where he lives with his wife and three children. For five months this year, the family was fractured across borders. Sonia, age 11, had been separated from Dennis after they crossed into the United States and turned themselves in to the Border Patrol to ask for asylum. Dennis was deported from Texas, and Sonia sent to a shelter in New York.

The U.S. government is still taking children from their parents after they cross the border. Since the supposed end of family separation — in the summer of 2018, after a federal judge’s injunction and President Donald Trump’s executive order reversing the deeply controversial policy — more than 1,100 children have been taken from their parents, according to the government’s own data. There may be more, since that data has been plagued by bad record keeping and inconsistencies. The government alleges that separations now only happen when a parent has a criminal history or is unfit to care for a child, but an ongoing lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that the current policy still violates the rights of children and families. Border Patrol agents, untrained in child welfare, make decisions that some parents are unfit to stay with their children based solely on brief interactions with them while they are held in custody.

Dennis picks coffee during the harvest season and works other basic jobs when he can, but he struggles to put food on the table and pay for his kids’ school supplies. In April, unable to find steady work in the coffee fields and receiving regular threats from a creditor, he headed north, hoping to find safety and opportunity in the United States. “We were barely eating. I couldn’t give my kids a life,” Dennis told me. (He preferred that I only use first names for him and his family due to safety concerns.) Thinking that his two boys — ages 2 1/2 and 7 — were too young to travel, Dennis took Sonia and together they left Honduras. They trekked through Guatemala and Mexico by bus, train, and on foot. They were robbed once, terrified the whole way, and had to beg for food. They slept wherever they could — sometimes in the woods, along the tracks, or, when they could scrounge enough money together, in migrant flophouses….

https://theintercept.com/2019/12/09/family-separation-policy-lawsuit/?utm_source=The+Intercept+Newsletter