I wanted to call your attention to two excellent pieces of journalism regarding the undocumented immigrant children caught in the current nightmare at the southern border. “Separated: Children at the Border,” from PBS’ “Frontline,” does a first-rate job of explaining how the situation exploded into the draconian practice of separating children from their parents at the border. It begins by offering an almost no-win portrait of people from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala fleeing gang violence in their home countries and an Obama administration forced by law to release families from family detention, because it couldn’t detain children for more than 20 days.
Interestingly, the Obama Administration -- considered so weak on immigration by conservatives -- had raised the idea of separating the children from their parents, then dismissed it. But the Trump Administration decided to tread where the Obama Administration chose not to go. The result was 2,300 separated children and a national outcry. Despite deadlines imposed by the courts, hundreds of these children remain separated from their parents. Some may never be reunited. Those parents who have been reunited with their children say that their kids are changed. This is well-documented not only in the “Frontline” report but in Miriam Jordan’s New York Times story of a Brazilian mother and son. Five-year-old Thiago alternates between clinging fear and an aloofness sometimes marked by aggressive child’s play.
"My son used to be carefree,” his mother, Ana Carolina Fernandes, says. “He wasn’t this way.”