The Atlantic

‘The Separation Was So Long. My Son Has Changed So Much.’

U.S. border guards took a 6-year-old Honduran boy from his mother, and ultimately returned a deeply traumatized child.
Source: Jeremy Raff / The Atlantic

SAN BENITO, Texas—Anita and Jenri, mother and son, fled north from Honduras and crossed the Rio Grande on a raft near McAllen, Texas, in mid-June. They immediately turned themselves over to Border Patrol and asked for asylum.

Agents transported them to the station known among immigrants as the perrera, or “dog pound,” because of the chain-link cages used to hold them. Anita and Jenri had no way of knowing, during their journey, that the Trump administration had begun separating families along the southwest border in early May in an attempt to deter migration.

Moments before agents took Jenri, 6, away from Anita, they snapped a mug shot of them together with vacant expressions. It was one of the few record-keeping measures the government took in what would become a national crisis involving hundreds of separated families, missing children, and, ultimately, deported mothers and fathers faced with the haunting prospect of never again seeing their sons and daughters.

“I remember [Jenri] grabbing my clothes, saying, ‘Mommy, I don’t want them to separate us,’” Anita later told me.

Soon, Anita was shuttled

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