Audio obtained by ProPublica captures the noises of children inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility screaming and crying because they’ve just been separated from their parents.
The harrowing clip released Monday includes the voices of 10 kids from Central America who were separated from their parents at the U.S. border by immigration authorities last week, ProPublica reported. The children scream for their parents; one 6-year-old girl begs to be allowed to phone her aunt.
Over their screams, a Border Patrol agent jokes about the noise.
“Well, we have an orchestra here,” he can be heard saying in Spanish. “What’s missing is a conductor.”
The release of the audio comes amid public outcry over the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policies, fueling outrage over what many people see as inhumane treatment of immigrant children.
This isn't hypothetical.— Rep. Cheri Bustos (@RepCheri) June 18, 2018
This isn't political.
This is frightened children crying out for their moms and dads.@realDonaldTrump, this is because of you.
End this #FamilySeparation policy before one more child is permanently damaged by you.#FamiliesBelongTogether https://t.co/OGx2KE4hXh
Since the policy was announced in April, more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents at the U.S. border, according to reports. Photos and videos released over the weekend showed children being held in metal cages in processing facilities.
As the outrage over the audio boiled over online, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen spoke at the White House to address the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children and parents.
Nielsen admitted that the administration was separating families at a higher rate than previous administrations but that the DHS was fairly and appropriately enforcing the law.
She repeatedly called on Congress to fix the loopholes that allowed family separations at the border but adamantly said that the administration was not using children as “pawns” to get Congress to act. She denied seeing pictures of children in detention centers and did not know of the audio from the ProPublica story.
However, during her briefing, a reporter played it.