FAMILY SEPARATION FALLOUT: A 39-year-old Honduran man who'd been separated from his wife and child committed suicide on May 13 in a Texas jail, the Washington Post's Nick Miroff reported Saturday, citing an incident report filed by sheriff's deputies. The death occurred roughly a week after the Trump administration announced a new policy to refer all suspected border crossers for prosecution, a move that increased the likelihood of family separation.
DHS did not disclose the incident publicly , Miroff writes. "But according to a copy of a sheriff's department report obtained by The Washington Post, [Marco Antonio Muñoz] was found on the floor of his cell May 13 in a pool of blood with an item of clothing twisted around his neck." A Border Patrol agent who spoke to the Post said Muñoz "lost his shit" when agents told him the family would be separated. "They had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands," the agent said. CBP later issued a statement that said Muñoz "became disruptive and combative" during processing at a Border Patrol station and was transferred to the jail's custody. "CBP takes every loss of life very seriously and has initiated an internal review to ensure [agency] policies were followed," a spokesman said.
News of the suicide followed a story last week by Miriam Jordan in the New York Times about a 5-year-old Honduran boy named José who was separated from his father at the border and was placed with an American foster family. His foster mother said the boy cried himself to sleep the first few nights, but then shifted to "just moaning and moaning," before eventually making it through the night. "Whether the policy will succeed as a deterrent remains an open question," Jordan wrote. "What is clear is that it is creating heartbreak and trauma for those subjected to it, with parents and children often unaware of one another's whereabouts." The boy repeatedly asks his foster family when he'll see his father, who is in detention. "They tell him the truth," Jordan reports. "They do not know. No one knows."
President Donald Trump boasted at a late-May rally in Nashville that immigration would benefit Republicans in the midterm elections, and hurt Democrats. But the new prosecution policy will test that thesis. Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, criticized it over the weekend as "an intentional infliction of trauma on children." Read more from the Washington Post here and the New York Times here
Related read: "Exclusive: Nearly 1,800 families separated at U.S.-Mexico border in 17 months through February," from Reuters' Mica Rosenberg. Find it here.
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ASYLUM BACKUP AT THE BORDER: DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has urged asylum seekers to head to ports of entry and avoid prosecution under the new zero-tolerance strategy. But "unusually long lines" have formed on the Mexican side of the southwest border, Elliot Spagat and Nomaan Merchant report in the Associated Press. "Wait times of a few hours or longer are not uncommon at the border," the pair write. "But the backlogs that have developed over the past several weeks at crossings in California, Arizona, and Texas — and people sleeping out in the open for days at a time — are rare." The reason for the backup isn't clear, but advocates argue the administration is slow walking the claims to discourage people from seeking asylum. Read more from the Associated Press here.