Immigrants and Border Wall (05:20)
Maritza Amaya is fleeing gang violence in El Salvador with her infant son. Her interview takes place on the day President Trump signs an executive order halting the family separation policy. Sister Norma Pimentel responds to the president’s characterization of immigrants as criminals.
Family Separation (02:41)
Martin Smith travels to El Salvador to visit a father who has been separated from his child since crossing into the United States illegally. It has been a month since Arnovis Guidos Portillo has seen his 6-year-old daughter.
Perilous Journey North (02:56)
Immigrants face many dangers on the journey. Author Sonia Nazario describes riding a train nicknamed “The Beast.”
"Coyote" Experience (01:53)
Portillo describes the experience he and his daughter had with smugglers. He knew nothing of Trump's separation policy that took his daughter away.
Unaccompanied Minors and DACA (04:33)
Smith and others describe factors contributing to a spike in minors coming across the border in 2014. Republicans criticize Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals for sending the wrong message.
Anti-Immigrant Sentiment (02:32)
Mike Vickers blames Obama for luring young migrants to the U.S. The veterinarian has set up an electrified fence on his ranch and joined a militia that patrols the border.
Asylum vs. Accelerated Deportations (03:01)
U.S. law allows anyone fleeing violence to seek asylum. Border Patrol apprehends about 60,000 children per year. Former Deputy Homeland Security Adviser Amy Pope puts the numbers in a larger context; Smith describes pressures that lead to a spike in deportations under the Obama Administration.
Family Detention and the Flores Settlement (03:28)
While the Obama Administration rejects the idea of separating families, it commits to building more family detention facilities. The American Immigration Council provides pro bono assistance to families detained in a facility in Dilley, Texas. Immigration advocates cite Reno v. Flores and successfully sue.
Border Wall and Family Separations (04:32)
Trump excites his base by promising a wall along the southern border. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (I.C.E.) detains 40,000 undocumented immigrants during his first 100 days in office. The president broadens the criteria for deportation, threatens to cut funding to sanctuary cities, and enacts a policy of separating families.
Seeking Asylum (02:33)
Martin visits Esmeralda Rodriguez and her family who fled violence in El Salvador and are staying at a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico. Rodriguez plans to seek asylum by entering the country legally, but she and her daughters have heard rumors of the family separation policy.
Separation Policy Justified (04:36)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces the separation policy months after it goes into effect. The Trump administration cites the Flores decision as justification. Michelle Brané of the Women’s Refugee Coalition accuses the administration of creating a false dichotomy; Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies defends the policy.
Traumatized Children (02:34)
Yoselyn Bulux, 15, describes being separated from her mother after crossing the border in Arizona. The experience is harrowing for the very young; Brané details the conditions of their captivity.
Public Response (03:30)
Outrage intensifies with news that thousands of immigrant children are separated from their families. Sessions responds to criticism by invoking scripture, and White House press briefings become volatile. ProPublica’s recording of a crying a child leads the news for days; Tom Homan says he has not heard it.
Executive Order and Lawsuit (03:47)
Trump halts future separations, but the order does not address children already in custody. A federal judge orders families reunited following an ACLU lawsuit. Bulux reunites with her mother, Juana.
Immigrant Families Reunited (02:59)
Despite a federal court order, hundreds of children remain separated from their parents. Smith documents the fate of immigrant families he encountered and changes in the behavior of traumatized children.
Credits: Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border (01:01)
Credits: Frontline: Separated: Children at the Border
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