I have been watching and listening to Antar Davidson describing his experience at a detention center in Arizonia. He quit his position when he could get no one in the facility to act to make the conditions of children in this prison decent: Here is the video and the transcript follows:
AMY GOODMAN: As outrage is mounting over the Trump administration’s practice of separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border as part of the crackdown against immigrants and asylum seekers, the Associate Press reporting nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents since April 19th, The New York Times reporting some parents have been deported without their children and with no information about how the family will be reunited, we’re going to look now at Southwest Key, the nonprofit that operates 27 facilities in California, Arizona and Texas, including the Brownsville facility that holds 1,500 children, that Senator Merkley was previously denied entry to.
We’re going to Tucson, Arizona, to speak with a whistleblower, a youth care worker who quit the Tucson detention center for unaccompanied minors, run by the nonprofit Southwest Key Programs, which also runs the Brownsville facility and the proposed “baby jail” in Houston, 27 facilities in all. Antar Davidson quit after, he says, Southwest Key forced him to tell children who were separated from their mother and from their siblings not to hug.
Antar Davidson, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about why you quit your job last week?
ANTAR DAVIDSON: Sure, definitely. Thank you, first and foremost, Amy, for having me on the show. I just want to clarify a little bit the timeline of events. That first night, when they told me not to hug, that prompted me to seek change internally. I reached out to a regional director, who assured me that she—the next morning, she assured me that things would change, things would be different.
Four more Brazilians came. I found it extremely difficult. I tried to help, through the organization. I tried to talk to people. And despite being a Brazilian citizen and having had professional translation work, they did not allow me to help. They really were blocking me at every turn.
I then—I then requested a leave, a time off, a week off, to process what I had gone through. And prior to that, the CEO, Dr. Juan Sánchez, made his rounds and began asking for money. And after they denied my leave request, it was then that I made the—I put in my resignation as a conscientious objector. So, just to add—
AMY GOODMAN: I don’t understand what you said, Antar.
ANTAR DAVIDSON: Just adding—yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: You said he was asking for money?
ANTAR DAVIDSON: Yes. So, he—basically, they called mandatory meetings at our facility, three different mandatory meetings. And he initially said that they’re going—they need 500 more people. They’re going to drop the ratio from one-to-five to one-to-three for the “tender age” kids, so that refers to the direct care ratios, so that they would have more staff to take care of those younger kids. Five hundred kids—500 new employees, he said we needed.
He told then a sob story about a minor who had come into a facility with very thick acne and how he felt so bad. Despite making a million dollars-plus, between him and his wife, in federal tax dollars, he said that he felt so bad that he couldn’t do anything for this child with acne, and then he proceeded to basically present this employee giving program, where employees and staff were urged to give $10 of every paycheck or a one-time contribution of $240. He then had a second speaker kind of reinforce the policy, while passing around papers for people to sign away their checks. And so, yeah, I just definitely want to clarify that despite, of course, the acute problems of the “zero tolerance” policy, but also we shouldn’t let this CEO off the hook, who’s been making a million dollars-plus for the past five years, off the detention of children, of vulnerable immigrant children.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Antar, can you talk about this moment—you talked about speaking Portuguese. You’re Brazilian. Talk about the moment where you were with these children, that so disturbed you. Describe the scene.
ANTAR DAVIDSON: Well, it was pretty much a day of being shown a very uncompassionate organization claiming to be a humanitarian nonprofit. The children were separated from their mother. And the next day, at 2:00 in the morning, they left—I believe it was a facility in Texas. They arrived at the Tucson facility at 9:30 in the morning, having not had slept the entire night. They were showered, fed. They went through the intake process. My shift started at 1:30. So, I eventually was able to start talking to them.
Initially, he understood, because no one spoke Portuguese, and there’s a phone translation service, but it does not work very well—the oldest brother, as soon as I started speaking Portuguese, burst out crying. And he explained to me that he thought that his mom had disappeared. In Brazil, when the government tells you that someone has disappeared, it has a very different connotation than it does here, that essentially means that they are dead. So I had to affirm to him first that his mom was not in fact dead, and then basically proceed to try to explain to him, with no clear answers, kind of where his mom was, what kind of facility. We add no idea. The case managers had no idea.
So, then, after that, I was told to supervise them in a classroom. It was a brother, who was 16, his sister, who was 10, and their younger brother, who was 8, along with a 5-year-old Guatemalan girl who came with them from Texas and had made friends with the sister. They had begun asking me—this was about 4:00 in the afternoon. They had begun asking me to sleep in a bed. They were very tired. They hadn’t slept the whole night. They had just been separated from their mom. And I requested—I requested from the management if I could get beds for them so that they could sleep. They told me, “Negative,” didn’t even really give me a reason. And essentially, I was forced to offer to sweep the floor to make a space for them to sleep on the floor, to which I felt extremely disgusted. And that was only the beginning. So, after having asked them to sleep on the floor and sweeping the floor, I went on to teach my capoeira class, which I have been—I had been doing at Southwest Key.
And then, later on, in the evening, it was not until 8:00 that the kids were assigned rooms. In Spanish and English, they were trying to explain to the kids that they would all then be separated, the brother, both—all three of the siblings in different rooms. So, they responded to this by basically clinging to each other and crying. So then I was called on the radio, and I was told over the radio, “Antar, come over here. You need to tell them that they cannot hug. They can’t hug.” So, I said, “I don’t know that I’m going to do that, but I’m on my way.” So I arrived to the scene, and the three siblings were clutching each other for dear life, tears streaming down their face. I approached the oldest brother, and I say to him in Portuguese, “Bro, you’ve got to be strong.” And he turns to me with tears streaming down his face, and he says, “How? How can I be strong? Look at my brother. Look at my sister. They’re trying to separate us again.” And I didn’t know—I just put my head down. I did not know what to respond to him.
AMY GOODMAN: Antar, how old are these children?
ANTAR DAVIDSON: And at that moment, a shift leader—yes?
AMY GOODMAN: How old are these children?
ANTAR DAVIDSON: These kids, the oldest brother was—the oldest brother was 16. The sister was 10. And the younger brother was 8.
So, at that moment, the shift leader ran up to me and very aggressively told me, ”¡Diles que no pueden abrazar!” “Tell them that they can’t hug!” Now, this is also in front of other children, other employees, who are watching this. And so she screams at me to tell them not to hug, that they’re not allowed to hug. That’s the rule at Southwest Key.
And meanwhile, I’m looking at these kids. It’s the two little—the two little siblings just, you know, thinking they’re going to be ripped now from their brother’s arms, and the brother crying because he can’t do anything, necessarily. And I told her, at that point, when she told me to do that—I told her, “I’m sorry, but as a human being, that’s not something that I can do. You’re welcome to do it yourself,” to which she replied, first, that she would report me to the supervisor, and then she went directly to them and said, ”no puedes abrazar,” “You’re not allowed to hug.” And he looks at me, with tears streaming down his face, in utter disbelief that that would happen.
It was at that moment that I realized that if I were to continue with Southwest Key, at least here in this facility, that I’d be told to do things that were against what I’m now seeing from the response of the world is against the code of all humans’ morality. I tried to make internal change. I contacted a regional director. I noticed that it wasn’t going anywhere, after three or four days. I requested my time off, stating that I needed to processes these very impactful and traumatizing events. I was denied, after two days. And at that point was when I handed in my resignation as a conscientious objector to the route and the direction the organization was taking.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to a statement, posted on YouTube, by the state senator you work for, Antar, Arizona state Representative Pamela Powers Hannley.
REP. PAMELA POWERS HANNLEY: I am the ranking member on the Health Committee. On this committee, we hear child safety bills all the time. I believe that legislators should be allowed into the facility in Tucson to see the children. At least 300 are being detained in Tucson.
AMY GOODMAN: Antar Davidson, you’re field director for Arizona state Representative Pamela Powers Hannley. She has not been allowed to tour the facility where you worked, even though she’s the ranking Democrat on the Arizona state Health Committee?
ANTAR DAVIDSON: Yep. And that precisely illustrates the main problem with these facilities. Despite being paid, very highly paid, by American tax dollars, they remain entirely clandestine. I also want to just take this opportunity to really give a very strong thank you to Senator Merkley. When I heard what happened to him, I felt extremely empowered, and that really led to me deciding to stand up. The main problem—again, the main problem with these detention centers is their lack of transparency, which allows them to basically turn it into a prison.
AMY GOODMAN: Antar Davidson, I want to get your reaction to Southwest Key spokesperson Cindy Casares, who responded to concerns about whether the nonprofit is prepared to house children who have been separated from their parents at the border and are coping with trauma. Quote, she said, “Our staff have great expertise in dealing with this population. We have very high professional development standards. We cannot operate if we do not have the legally mandated number of staff required. … For the last 20 years we hire[d] staff that have a child care or social work background to be prepared to support the developmental and emotional needs of all children who arrive to our facility,” she said. Antar Davidson, you worked at the facility. Is that your assessment?
ANTAR DAVIDSON: At my—at our facility, not the case. I can personally—I was personally asked by a shift supervisor if I could work six days a week for the next foreseeable future. We were asked, every single day, “Can 10 people stay overtime? Can five people stay?” Most of the people at that—we had one week of training. Most of the employees there were formerly working in restaurants, formerly working in—you know, construction workers. And I think one of the main things, as much as this is about the children, this is a labor issue. Southwest Key, to great profit for their board and the CEO, has mostly opened their shelters in low-income Latino communities, where workers are basically more willing to take, you know, basically, $15 an hour, which is what we take, and no benefits, and just basically not speak out, not unionize. The main point is, this is a federal responsibility, and people who undertake federal responsibilities should receive federal-level support. So, I’m sure that perhaps in other facilities it’s different, but, unfortunately, in Tucson, that was not the case. And I believe, according to other articles and things that are coming out, that is not the case, what they’re saying.
AMY GOODMAN: Antar Davidson, since Attorney General Jeff Sessions made his announcement, it’s quite stunning what has taken place. President Trump says this isn’t his fault, it’s the Democrats’ fault. But the attorney general explicitly made this announcement of zero tolerance. I mean, the chief of staff, Kelly, who used to be head of Department of Homeland Security, he said this, as well as other top aides of Trump. But Trump is saying it is not his responsibility. There has been an increased flow of people, children, into these facilities. Was Southwest Key alerted to this, that this was going to happen?
ANTAR DAVIDSON: I can’t speak to that. I wasn’t necessarily in the upper management. What I can say is, I would be more than—I, personally, having had my experience, would be more than happy to speak to President Trump or Attorney General Jeff Sessions in regards to how these policies have had effect on the ground level. Again, I would like to point out that this is a—this is, basically, a bad program that was broken by a horrible idea, a horrible new plan. So there has been a very great effect by the “zero tolerance” policy; however, prior to this, we’re not talking about an organization that was good. We’re talking about an organization that, for the past five years, has made millions of dollars in basically the detention of youth.
AMY GOODMAN: And your response to the same—the nonprofit you work for, Southwest Key, opening what they’re calling a “baby jail” in Houston? The mayor was protesting. The former police chief was protesting yesterday in the pouring rain. The lease of a former homeless shelter in Houston by the nonprofit you work for, Southwest Key, to use this jail—
ANTAR DAVIDSON: Worked.
AMY GOODMAN: —separating children at a tender age of 10 or below, 10 or younger.
ANTAR DAVIDSON: Follow the money. Yeah, follow the money. There’s going to be—I promise you, there will be millions made, in various people’s hands. And I think that’s what’s perhaps most insidious about this. This is an organization that presents itself as doing a humanitarian deed and this and that. This is a federal-level responsibility that they’re taking on, at great cost. And you need to do it right. It’s not something that you should laud yourself, especially if you’re making a lot of money. Again, follow the money. There’s a lot of money being made off of this situation.
And it’s important that we hold all those people accountable and, basically, as a nation, show we’re—we need to integrate people. We need to provide quality mental health services, particularly because these children—these children are being reunified and placed into public schools. If we turn these facilities into prisons, if we don’t provide the proper education and preparation for them, upon reunification, we’re basically creating a prison-to-public-school pipeline. And that will be detrimental to everyone.
AMY GOODMAN: Antar Davidson, I thank you for being with us. Antar Davidson is a whistleblower who quit his job last week as a youth care worker at the Estrella del Norte—that’s North Star—facility for unaccompanied minors and separated children, this one in Tucson, Arizona, the facility run by the nonprofit Southwest Key Programs. That’s the company that also runs the 1,500-child facility in Texas. Davidson is also field director for Arizona state Representative Pamela Powers Hannley.
Antar Davidson is not the only person to have penetrated these prisons. Here is Zoe Carpenter from McAllen, Texas:
The dog kennel: That’s how the Border Patrol processing facility in McAllen is known, because of the chain-link fencing penning more than a thousand migrants inside. The 77,000-square-foot facility—often called “Ursula,” because of the street it’s on—lies just a few miles north of the US-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for unauthorized migrants. Ursula is one of the first places immigrants are taken to after being apprehended by Border Patrol—and now, the facility is the epicenter for the family separations that are occurring because of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy towards border crossers.
A large cage inside held dozens of young boys and teenagers without their families, some of whom looked as young as 5. A few slept on green mats with silver Mylar blankets pulled tightly around them. A few water bottles and bags of chips lay strewn around. Otherwise, the cages were bare, without toys or books. Separate areas held groups of girls; men and women alone; and mothers and fathers with their children. The overhead lights never go off. In one pen, a woman named Valesca sat on the ground, holding her 1-year-old son. She cried as she recounted leaving another child behind in Guatemala. She’d been inside the processing center for four days.
Under normal circumstances, adults confined in the facility are supposed to stay only 12 hours before being sent to court hearings or other detention centers. But across the border region, detention facilities, children’s shelters, and the legal system are overwhelmed. In May, the Trump administration issued a directive to prosecute all unauthorized border crossers in federal court, rather than to process them through immigration courts. The criminal charges mean extra paperwork, and a flood of cases into the legal system. The Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley office is now charging more than a 1,000 adults each week with illegal entry, a misdemeanor.
In one area of the Ursula facility, computers have been set up for “virtual processing,” so that Border Patrol agents in other cities can process the paperwork of detainees being held here. Ursula has only 10 agents permanently stationed there, plus hundreds of temporarily assigned agents, and they can’t handle the volume on their own. Detainees are brought in and out of the facility 24 hours a day. As of noon on Sunday, Ursula held 1,129 people, including 528 families and nearly 200 children who’d crossed the border without their parents. The facility has only four social workers onsite.
The shift to criminal prosecutions is also causing the systematic separation of parents and children. According to Border Patrol officials who gave reporters a brief tour of the Ursula facility on Sunday, children are automatically taken away from anyone being criminally prosecuted. The Rio Grande Valley sector does not separate parents from children younger than 4—though that policy doesn’t apply to anyone with a prior criminal conviction, including misdemeanor offenses, according to Border Patrol agent Carmen Qualia. More than 1,100 children in the Rio Grande Valley sector alone have been taken from their parents in the last six weeks, according to Border Patrol sector chief Manuel Padilla, and more than 2,000 nationwide since early April—an average of 45 children a day.
Parents and children are then cast into separate channels of the federal bureaucracy. Parents are sent into ICE custody and to federal court, where many are sentenced to “time served,” and put into deportation proceedings. Children go into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. That transfer is supposed to take place within 72 hours. According to John Lopez, the acting deputy Border Patrol agent at Ursula, it’s possible that a parent could go to court and come back to Ursula the same day, only to find that their child has already been moved to another facility.
t’s not clear what the government’s process is for reunifying these families. Officials at the Ursula processing center showed a handout that they are giving to parents that instructs them to call an ICE or ORR hotline. “We are told inside here, ‘Oh, it’s just a very short period—they go to a judge and then they’re reunified.’ That’s not what we’re hearing,” said Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, who toured the Ursula facility and others in the Rio Grande Valley region on Sunday with other Democratic members of Congress. Some parents have been deported while their children remain in US custody. “The reality is it’s very hard for the parents to know where there kids are and be able to connect with them,” Merkley said.
For the group of lawmakers, the most distressing visit occurred at the end of day, at the Port Isabel Detention Center, a remote facility surrounded by a swampland near the Gulf of Mexico. There, Merkley and several others met with 10 women, most from Honduras, who’d been separated from their children, one as young as 3. Only some of them know where their children were taken: to shelters elsewhere in Texas, but also as far as Miami and New York. One woman worried about her child’s health, because no one collected information about her child’s medical condition when they were separated. Another had been told that her child would be put up for adoption. “It was the most disturbing thing I heard all day,” said Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline. “They were sobbing, sobbing uncontrollably.” None of the women has been able to talk to a lawyer.
The legislators said they are particularly concerned about the treatment of asylum seekers. One woman at Port Isabel said she’d turned herself in at a legal port of entry, only to be criminally prosecuted for illegal entry. “It’s perfectly legal to, at a checkpoint, ask for asylum,” Merkley said. Earlier in the day, his group visited the border crossing in Hidalgo, where there have been reports of Border Patrol officers turning away people before they can get into the United States to ask for asylum. “What they’re doing is making it very difficult for those seeking asylum to cross at the legal border points,” Merkley said. “It’s part of a coordinated strategy to stop asylum seekers from ever being able to make their case.” Two weeks ago, he said, he saw dozens of families camped out on the bridge, waiting for a chance to ask for asylum.
In Brownsville, the congressional group toured a former Walmart that has been converted into a shelter, called Casa Padre, for teenage boys who crossed the border alone or who have been separated from their parents. Southwest Key, the company that runs Casa Padre and many other shelters for migrant children, has hired more than 800 workers just in the past week in order to keep up with rising numbers of kids being sent to shelters because of the “zero-tolerance” policy. The organization is still trying to hire 90 more mental-health-care providers for Casa Padre alone. The legislators asked for, but were not given, the locations of other Southwest Key shelters where younger children and girls are being held. “They are in some of these facilities, but they won’t tell us where they are,” said Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan.
This is what happens when someone seeks asylum legitimately. Sessions has said that the US will no longer give asylum (this is legal) to women suffering domestic violence or people fleeing gangs trying to kill them.
For more on what the Democrats might do now as they condemn the Trump administration’s new policy of separating families at the border, we’re joined by Renée Feltz, Democracy Now! correspondent and producer, who has long reported on the criminalization of immigrants, family detention and the business of detention. She just came back from South Texas.
Renée, it’s great to be speaking to you again. So, President Trump, in tweet and in speaking to reporters, says, “It’s the Democrats’ fault. It’s the Democrats’ fault,” as everyone is shouting back, “But you’ve instituted this 'zero tolerance' policy.”
RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right. So, Trump is trying to say this isn’t their policy, the Democrats made us do it. One of his advisers, Stephen Miller, is actually saying, “It is our policy to do it.” His head of Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, is saying, “We’re not actually doing it.” And then, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is saying, “God wants us to do it.” So, you know, that’s where we are in terms of the responsibility here.
But as a reporter, I’ve been following the money, as Antar referred to earlier, with the business of detention, under the Obama administration, for some time here on Democracy Now! And many reporters, like myself, are calling—recalling this history of family detention under previous administrations, not so much to toot our own horn and say we were right, but more to say this is how Democrats have previously compromised on the issue of how we handle the surge of migrants coming to our country to seek asylum.
In 2014, President Obama, as we reported here on Democracy Now!, opened detention centers for families. And his approach was to keep the moms with the children when they came together, although there was some consideration at that time of separating the families. But they didn’t really go that route, although, in many cases, we would see the father maybe peeled off and separated, while the mother and the child would be held in these facilities.
So, there’s other examples of how Democrats have overseen the separation of families. For example, we saw, with people who were characterized as a criminal alien, people who had a green card or a legal ability to stay in the country but committed an offense, if they committed a crime, that was used to say, “Well, your citizenship potential is revoked, and now we can deport you from the country.” We’ve interviewed many people, including someone here, Jean Montrevil, who was deported from the United States to Haiti recently, under President—issues with President Obama, and separated from his young children. His daughter was also on our program. We’ve also seen Democrats never pass a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and so we saw separation under DACA, as well, from people from their parents.
What we will see is this issue of family separation coming up in the 2020 Democratic primaries. We already saw a lot of Democrats coming to shelters and things like that. So the question is: What will Democrats do now, especially with the so-called compromise legislation that President Trump is going to meet with Democrats—I’m sorry, with Republicans about this week?
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it’s very interesting, because last week Trump said he didn’t support the Republican legislation, and then the White House walked that back. I want to go to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who tweeted Sunday press and advocacy groups have misreported on the new “zero tolerance” policy, saying, quote, “As I have said many times before, if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry.” That’s what she said. I want to turn to an asylum seeker named Michael, from Honduras, who spoke to Democracy Now! last weekend after he had been camped out on the bridge at the U.S. port of entry in McAllen, Texas, waiting to be allowed to request asylum. He had been waiting seven days at this point.
MICHAEL: [translated] In my country, they were trying to convince me to go to the businesses and ask for money. They were extorting the businesses. They went to my house and tried to force me to extort people. I had a visa, but it was expired, so I went to make a new one, and they told me that I should come back later. But if I had waited for it, I wouldn’t be telling this story, because they would have killed me. I came from my house last Monday, and my mom called me on Wednesday and told me that they tried to pick me up again and to take me. I left Honduras three weeks ago. I’ve been here on the bridge for seven days. If they give me asylum, I’ll work hard and keep going on. I’ll try to bring my family with me, because they are also in danger.
AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Michael, an asylum seeker from Honduras. This is very interesting. You have Kirstjen Nielsen saying, “All we’re asking is that they go to the ports of entry.” But at the ports of entry, you found—you were just there on the bridge, Renée—that they were being told, the people who were coming forward, that they could not go over the bridge, the port of entry that they’re told this is the only place they can legally come across.
RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right. And there seems to be a policy where the Customs and Border Patrol officers are stationed right in the middle of the bridge at these ports of entry, where U.S. meets Mexico, and they’re refusing to allow people to even walk down the U.S. part of the sidewalk to get to the building where there’s a port of entry where they can make their request.
We just heard from Michael, who is a young man who’s saying he’s fleeing, essentially, gang violence. And we’ve seen Attorney General Jeff Sessions say that that’s no longer going to be accepted as a reason to come here seeking asylum, as well as women who suffer domestic violence. Now, what are we going to say when we look at what happens after Democrats and Republicans are done being outraged about the separation of young children from their parents? What about slightly older children, such as Michael, who’s 17? What about children as young as 10 or 11? Many of them might go on to be characterized as potential recruits for MS-13, who we’ve seen President Trump speak out against widely.
Now, will the Democrats compromise and say we can agree to deport these type of kids or to put them into these juvenile detention centers, essentially, or will they claim that these young children should also be kept with their parents, in terms of keeping families together? And so, when we talk about following the money, some people are asking: If Democrats regain control of the House later this year, will they consider things like abolish ICE? If they’re so unhappy with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will they cut off the funds? And if not, why?
AMY GOODMAN: More than a thousand mental health professionals, now well over this number, and organizations have signed a letter condemning the new practice of separating nearly all children from their parents at the border. This is Dr. Selma Yznaga, a professor of counseling at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus, along the border in Brownsville.
SELMA YZNAGA: The fact that kids are being forcibly separated from their parents has so much to do with the trauma that they are experiencing and that will have a huge effect on their behavior in the immediate future, in the near future and in the long term. To think that our government is putting kids through this kind of traumatic—and it is traumatic—experience to send a message to people who are fleeing their countries, not out of their own choice, but for their own survival, is—amounts to torture.
AMY GOODMAN: “Amounts to torture.” Dr. Selma Yznaga is a professor of counseling at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus along the border in Brownsville. Renée, you just spoke to her.
RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right. She’s pointing out the trauma that children are facing. And we’ve heard that there is a failure to train the people in these shelters to help the kids deal with that trauma. We’re going to see these kids enter our public schools without any counseling—without enough counseling, people would say. So that’s a concern that people have.
We may also see, if any of this Republican compromise legislation goes forward, a change that Republicans say would stop the separation of families, but in fact could do something worse: It could lift the 20-day limit that’s currently in place for families to be detained, and make it so that they could be detained without any limit. So that’s a major concern people have about the compromise legislation going forward and the type of trauma that children could face, not only from spending days or weeks in detention, but potentially months and even as long as a year, as they wait to be reunited with their sponsors or loved ones and family members here in the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Renée, we want to thank you for your continued reporting and your reporting over the years. Tomorrow we’ll continue this conversation with Pramila Jayapal, who is the Washington congressmember—that’s from Washington state. She’ll be in our studio here in New York. She herself went to a prison in Washington to speak with mothers who had been separated from their children, sent up from the Mexico border. Democracy Now! correspondent Renée Feltz, and producer, long reported on criminalization of immigrants, family detention and the business of detention.