After Marcelo, a Guatemalan migrant, crossed the border with his 15-year-old son, Byron, in May, he was accused of lying about being the boy’s father and was sent back to Mexico, according to a complaint to government watchdogs announced on Tuesday.
Her son was sent to a shelter for unaccompanied migrant children in Florida, the complaint mentioned.
Immigration officials also “humiliated” Marcelo and threw Byron’s birth certificate in the trash, according to the complaint, which was announced by the Women’s Refugee Commission on Tuesday.
Marcelo was sent back to Mexico “without ever having received any explanation or warning for the separation or his placement” in the return program to Mexico.
He remains estranged from his son months later as his lawyers attempt to negotiate their reunification with the government, according to the complaint.
“Marcelo is devastated and wants to be back with his son,” wrote Leah Chavla, policy adviser to the Women’s Refugee Commission who drafted the complaint.
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The commission said Tuesday it filed the complaint with the Inspector General and Civil Rights and Civil Liberties offices of the Department of Homeland Security on Friday, asking them to investigate cases where families were separated. between the United States and Mexico after arriving in the south. border to seek asylum.
As part of the Trump administration’s stay-in-Mexico policy, tens of thousands of asylum seekers have been forced to wait in Mexico for court dates in the United States while their court proceedings unfold.
The group said advocates have seen cases where part of an asylum-seeking family is processed and allowed to enter the United States, while other family members are sent back to Mexico, including cases of children separated from their parents, legal guardians and custodians.
“This administration continues to separate families in really cruel ways,” Chavla told NBC News, adding that sending separated migrant families to Mexico makes the separations “less visible, but the effects are so real.”
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to request for comment on the complaint.
In another case detailed in the complaint, a 20-year-old Honduran woman named Ana was separated from her 13-year-old brother, Alberto, despite a letter and documents from their grandmother authorizing her to be Alberto’s babysitter. according to the complaint. .
Immigration officials told Ana the boy would be sent to live with his mother, who currently resides in the United States, while she and her 5-year-old daughter would be sent back to Mexico.
“Ana and her daughter were sent back to Mexico despite her daughter suffering from a bad cough and fever,” the complaint states. After Ana was unable to find refuge, her mother was able to speak with some of her husband’s relatives in Durango, Mexico, where Ana and her daughter are staying while awaiting their hearing in October.
Earlier this month, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., told NBC News that she witnessed such a “tragic” story unfold on the border.
Cortez Masto said that during a visit to the southern border, she met families of asylum seekers in Nogales, Mexico who have been affected by the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Among the migrants she met was Karla, 23, a Salvadoran asylum seeker who arrived in the United States in May with her two younger brothers and her 4-year-old child, she said. Karla and her family were fleeing violence in their home country after her mother was murdered, Cortez Masto said.
The family made it to the port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico, but Karla was separated from her brothers and sent back across the border, Cortez Masto said.
“She had no idea where they were taken,” she said.
Karla eventually traveled to Nogales, nearly 800 km from Tijuana, and met a nun who took her to a migrant shelter, she said.
“It’s just horrible stories and tragic stories and she’s been waiting two months now,” Cortez Masto said.
Eventually, Karla got a chance to speak to her brothers over the phone and learned that they were being held at a migrant children’s shelter in Michigan.
“We really have to ask ourselves why – like in Karla’s case, she’s 23, she’s the older sister – why were they separated?” said the senator. “Why don’t we work to try to bring them together, to keep them together?”