NPR reports that an agent at a border patrol holding facility in El Paso, Texas attempted to force 3-year-old Sofia — her parents just call her “Sofi” — to choose which parent she would rather be sent to Mexico, leaving the remaining parent with her and her two siblings in the United States.
“The agent asked her who she wanted to go with, mom or dad,” said Sofi’s mother, Tania. “And the girl, because she is more attached to me, she said mom. But when they started to take [my husband] away, the girl started to cry. The officer said, ‘You said [you want to go] with mom.'”
Sofi has a heart condition. Her chest has a scar from an earlier surgery, and the family’s lawyer, Linda Rivas of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, asked a judge to remove the family from Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — also known as President Donald Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy.
Although the judge didn’t have the authority to do so, he spoke to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lawyer about Rivas’ concerns about Sofi and ensured that a contracted DHS doctor examined the child.
“He explained to the other officer that they all have to enter as a family. It was the morning shift officer. He replied, yes, he was going to give him [Joseph] entrance.”
Although the agent attempted to give the family different court dates, the doctor made it clear that the family had to receive the same dates due to Sofi’s condition. Sofi, her parents, and her 9-year-old sister and a 6-year-old brother are now with relatives in the Midwest.
In Texas, a border patrol agent asked a 3-year-old named Sofia—whom her family calls Sofi—to make a choice: One of her parents could stay in the U.S. with her and her siblings. The other parent would be sent to Mexico.
— The Marshall Project (@MarshallProj) July 17, 2019
Per The Inquisitr, a report by The Intercept suggests that the MPP policy exposes asylum seekers to kidnapping, rape, and murder. The report argues that the policy harms more than it helps, as asylum seekers are placed into Mexican border cities that are riddled with crime, such as Juárez, which is one of the 50 most violent cities in the world. To make matters worse, locals often don’t know or care about the danger migrants are in because the asylum seekers have no local ties. This apathy means migrants are more likely to be beaten, robbed, raped, or murdered, with no consequences.
According to a U.S. asylum officer who spoke anonymously, the MPP standard violates international law, as it involves sending people to countries where they face the threat of violence. As of now, civil rights groups like the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center are fighting the MPP, but it will remain in effect until the case is settled.