newyorker: On May 5th, just after midnight, a…


On May 5th, just after midnight, a Honduran woman named Ana Rivera and her five-year-old son, Jairo, tried to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. They were caught scaling a fence in El Paso, and spent the night in a holding cell at a U.S. Border Patrol station with other mothers and children, a group of about twenty-five people in all. On the afternoon of their second day in detention, two male agents entered the cell. “They didn’t say anything,” Rivera said. “They just walked over and grabbed Jairo. It felt like my son was stuck to me. He clung to me, cried and screamed. They had to pull him away.” She pleaded with the agents to tell her what was going on. The other women in the cell were too stunned to speak, Rivera said. In the next few hours, the agents started taking other children, too. Eventually, the mothers were told that they would be reunited with their children after spending a few days in jail.

Nearly six weeks later, Rivera has not seen her son.