U.S. officials separated him from his child. Then he was deported to El Salvador.

Arnovis Guidos Portillo remembers the authorities in green uniforms telling him that this would only be temporary.

They told him that his 6-year-old daughter, Meybelin, should really go with them, he recalled. The holding cell was cold, he said he was told, and the child was not sleeping well. Don’t worry, he was assured, she would take the first bus, and he would follow soon.

“What’s best is we take her to another place,” he recalled a U.S. official telling him.

It’s a conversation this 26-year-old farmer from El Salvador has replayed for nearly a month. His daughter was taken from him on his second day in U.S. immigration custody in Texas, he and his lawyers said, and she remains somewhere in the United States.

Guidos was deported recently back to El Salvador, where he lives in a one-room, dirt-floor shack with no electricity and two goats in the yard.

He and his daughter are one of more than 2,000 migrant families who have firsthand experience with President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The decision to prosecute all those caught crossing illegally into the United States meant that parents and children were sent to separate detention centers and shelters. Although Trump ended family separations in an executive order last month, many parents are still trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare, far from their children and unsure how they will be reunited.

“I would advise anyone who wants to travel to the United States with their children not to do it,” he said. “I would never want them to have to walk in my shoes.”

And yet, Guidos is ready to travel again, if he cannot find Meybelin soon, even if he must retrace his recent 1,500-mile journey: crossing Mexico crammed in the back of a refrigerated cargo truck after weeks in U.S. detention with frigid rooms and scalding showers and mocking guards.

Details of Guidos’ case were confirmed by court documents and his lawyers.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman said in a statement that the agency takes all allegations of mistreatment seriously and that its men and women “perform their duties professionally and treat everyone equally with dignity and respect.”

“Children represent the most vulnerable population and as such every CBP employee carries the fundamental ethical and moral belief as well as a legal obligation to put the welfare of any child first,” the statement said.

A spokeswoman for ICE, Sarah Rodriguez, said that Guidos, on June 19, “submitted a written request that he be removed to El Salvador without his child.”

Parents in ICE custody “have the opportunity to wait in detention for a coordinated removal with a child or may waive their right to such coordination,” she said.

Guidos arrived home in the coastal province of Usulutan, far out on a remote peninsula jutting into the Pacific Ocean. He works on a corn farm, earning $7 a day, and helps a local organization hatch baby sea turtles from eggs laid on the beach.

He built his house from scrap wood his brother gave him. It has two mattresses — …read more

Source:: The Week – World


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