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Update On Migrant Women Detained In Texas


There were protests across the country yesterday as Americans gathered in cities from New York to Los Angeles in sweltering summer heat, calling for the immediate reunification of migrant families and an end to family detentions and separations. Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas, is one of the facilities where migrant women who had their children taken away are being housed. Grassroots Leadership is a nonprofit that's working to support those women. And Bethany Carson, immigration researcher and organizer for Grassroots, has received a number of letters from women at Hutto, letters that detail their stories of crossing the border and express their love for their children. She translated one of those letters for us on the fly from a woman named Claudia (ph) to her son.

BETHANY CARSON: One of them says, (reading) hi, sweetheart, my precious son. You know that I love you so much, my little prince. And soon, we'll be together, and we'll never be separated again. I will care for you and protect you always, my love. I'm sending you many kisses and hugs. I love you. And when we're here together, I will always give you your food. And we're going to go out and walk around. And I'll lay down with you until you fall asleep. I love you, my little prince. And so there's - you know, it goes on like that. So these are, you know, mothers who are just desperate to see their kids.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Can you tell me how many women there are in there and what they're telling you?

CARSON: We are working with more than 40 women who are currently detained at Hutto who were separated from their kids at the border. These are kids ranging from, you know, toddlers to teenagers.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do you or do these women know or does the government know where these children may be?

CARSON: Some of them know where their children are. They've told they've been sent to places as far away as New York. Most of them have not been able to communicate on any kind of a regular basis with their kids. Some still have no idea where they are and are writing us letters, saying, please help us find my child. I haven't talked to them for almost a month. I have no idea where they are.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Is there any sense of how long they may have to be in this facility?

CARSON: There hasn't been any kind of a clear timeline for reunification laid out, even though there was an order by a federal judge that all of these parents should be immediately reunited with their kids who were taken from them at the border.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Can you tell me the story of one particular woman that you may have interacted with so we just get a sense of who's in there?

CARSON: You know, one of the women, who I actually got to talk to more who was just released - she had two little kids who were taken from her at the border. And she didn't get to talk to them until 21 days after she was sent to the Hutto detention center. And so for 21 days, she didn't know anything about them, how they were or get to hear their voices. And she wrote us a letter talking about all of the women who were even fainting because of the stress of being separated from their children, the kids who were crying when they were torn away from their parents and just how hard it was and that that is - the absolute harshest thing that they could do is to separate kids from their mothers.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What's next for these women? I mean, what's going to happen?

CARSON: We don't know what is going to happen, you know? Many of them really do fear getting deported without their children. And we know that there are, you know, 10,000 children still in ORR custody that are not reunited with their parents. And so this is in direct violation of the order of the federal judge who ordered that these mothers be reunified (ph) with their children.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Bethany Carson, immigration researcher and organizer for Grassroots Leadership, thank you so very much.

CARSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.