Jorge, Ricardo, Texas discussed on Morning Edition

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Began, the Trump Administration has set up a shadow immigration system on the U. S. Mexico border. Private contractors detain Children in hotels Before they're sent to their home countries. This allows immigration officials to bypass the normal process that would give the Children a chance to ask for asylum in the United States. NPR's Joel rose as the story of two people caught up in the system. It was late at night when Ricardo and Jorge arrived in a hotel parking lot, escorted by armed men in civilian clothes, way went in through the side door. No one was there. We didn't have to sign in or anything. We couldn't see the name of the hotel. Jorge is 16 and Ricardo is 13. They asked us not to use their last names because they're still in immigration proceedings. They're cousins who fled Honduras together after gang members threatened their family. They crossed the border illegally into Texas last month and turned themselves into the border patrol. After spending the night in detention. The boys say they were loaded into a van by the men who were not in uniforms. And they drove three hours to the hotel. Jorge says they were not allowed to leave their rooms for six days. They treated us badly at the hotel. They threatened us normally, when migrant Children travelling alone or apprehended. There are special protections that kick in to make sure they aren't sent back to dangerous situations. They're supposed to be detained and child appropriate shelters before being placed with a sponsor in the U. S while their asylum cases or heard But during the Corona virus pandemic that's not happening up and down the border, Court documents show. Many unaccompanied Children have been held secretly in hotels for days, sometimes weeks until they could be put on planes back to the countries. They came from. Immigration lawyers have figured out which hotel's leading to scenes like this one were detained. Give me your name. Texas Civil rights project posted this video on social media. Last month, he chose a lawyer confronting several unidentified men in the hallway of a hotel in McAllen, Texas, where the group believes migrant Children were being detained by police. Men shove the lawyer back into the elevator now. Private contractors working for U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are detaining these young migrants in hotels in McAllen as well Asshole Paso, Phoenix and San Antonio. According to court papers. The company MGM Ink says its contract with ice prevents it from from talking talking to to the the media. media. Ice Ice says says those those contractors contractors are are trained trained to to keep keep the the miners miners safe safe and and secure. secure. Jorge Jorge and and Ricardo Ricardo say say they they were were allowed allowed to to call call their their relatives. relatives. They They were were relieved relieved when when they they reached reached Ricardo's Ricardo's father, father, who who lives lives in in Texas. Texas. They They say say they they weren't weren't allowed allowed to to tell tell him him where where they they were were that we were forced to say that we were okay. And I wanted to tell him that we weren't getting enough food that we weren't allowed to go out or even to use the restroom. The boys figured this was just the normal immigration process in the US But Ricardo's father knew something was off. He's savvy about the system because he's seeking asylum himself. Three. Mind you. I think I suffered more than the kids because they knew absolutely nothing of what was happening. Ricardo Sr says days would pass. When he didn't hear from the boys or from immigration authorities. He drove six hours across Texas, stopping at every detention center and Border Patrol station to ask about the boys. All the while calling everyone he could think of for help. I told the lawyer I called the 100 government. I called the Honduras consulate and someone at that office told me the kids. We're on an express deportation list. What We're trying to that The best we can do is remove all individuals, regardless of whether they're minors. Or they're adults. That's Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U. S customs and Border Protection. He says the Trump Administration is trying to protect public health during the Corona virus pandemic by keeping migrants without papers out. We're trying to remove them a ce fast as we can not put them into our system to not have them remain in the United States for a long period of time, therefore increasing the exposure risk. The American people. Immigration officials say they've carried out more than 100,000 expulsions during the pandemic, removing at least 2000 unaccompanied Children through June. So it's really clear to us that this is a pretext for blocking access for Children and for asylum seekers. Lisa Friedman is a vice president at kids in need of defense or kind, a nonprofit that's trying to get Children released from this shadow immigration system that completely takes them 100% out of all of the special Actions that have been put in place in recognition of the vulnerability of unaccompanied Children. In the end, Ricardo Seniors frantic search for his son and cousin paid off. He got in touch with kind group contacted immigration authorities who handed the boys over to a shelter. A few weeks later, they were released TTO live with Ricardo's father. I have the best dad because he risked it all to be reunited. To see me to support me. For Ricardo's family is the exception For most kids who pass through these hotel rooms. That's all they're going to see during their brief stay in the U. S. Joel Rose NPR news

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