Protestors lined up outside the Federal Courthouse in Bridgeport, fighting to have two kids in Connecticut reunited with their parents, who are seeking asylum here in the U.S.
The children are a 9-year-old boy from Honduras, who hasn’t seen his dad in about a month, and a 14 year-old girl from El Salvador, who was separated from her mom about two months ago. The protestors represented several groups in Connecticut’s immigrant community. They say the children were forcibly taken from their parents in Texas (along the Mexican border) and shipped 2,000 miles away here to Connecticut by immigration officials.
They are seeking an end to what they call President Trump‘s cruel zero-tolerance policy.
“This administration’s cruel and inhumane policy of ripping kids from their parents and placing them in cages has hit home,” said Carolina Bartolleto, of the CT Immigrants Rights Alliance. “We have two kids who have been kidnapped by U.S. Immigration agents and shipped 2,000 miles away from their parents. Connecticut must not only fight for these two kids and their families, Connecticut must fight to dismantle the systems that are abusing, detaining, deporting,terrorizing, and murdering our community.”
The groups representing the children in the courtroom called an expert witness to testify before Judge Victor Bolden. Dr. Andres Martin is a child psychiatrist at Yale-New Haven Hospital. He met with the boy and girl on July 1st and did not paint a pretty picture for the judge. Dr. Martin says the entire ordeal of being separated from their parents has caused the children to suffer from PTSD and they have trouble sleeping and suffer from high anxiety out of fear that someone will always be lurking — looking to take them away from their parents.
He says the kids have also experienced gang violence in their native countries that has harmed loved ones.
“It is harrowing to see what the children have been through,” Dr. Martin said.
In testimony that lasted more than 2 hours, he repeatedly told he judge immediate reunificiation with their parents is the best thing for the children.
But, at the end of a very long day, the judge decided to take more time with his decision, saying these are challenging issues in a number of different ways and that his job is to make sure the rule of law is upheld in this country. He added the importance of treating everyone fairly regardless of where they came from.
In the end, lawyers for the kids — who were hoping the judge would release the parents from their holding facility in Texas and reunite them with the children – asked the judge if they could all reconvene next week on Wednesday, July 18th. There is a chance the family could see each other for the first time in a couple of months. They say they’re hoping the judge will order that the parents be present in the courtroom during those proceedings (today — they watched via satellite on TV from their facility in Texas and there were several technical glitches that prevented them from hearing everything via a translator).
Lawyers for the government also floated a last-minute idea to have the kids flown from their facilities in Connecticut to facilities in Texas where their parents are being held ahead of a July 26th deadline by the Trump Administration to reunite the thousands of separated families across the country right now.
Lawyers for the kids balked at that suggestion.
“The plan they have is to move kids like cattle … it’s unconstitutional,” said Josh Perry, Deputy Director of Connecticut Legal Services.
Perry says the better idea is to follow what the expert witness testified — that the kids need to be reunited with their parents immediately in a safe environment.