An audio recording of children being detained inside a Border Patrol facility is being widely shared online as the Trump administration’s controversial zero tolerance immigration policy, which involves separating children from their parents while families are trying to enter the U.S., continues to spark outrage.
During the recording, which is almost eight minutes long, young children can be heard crying and whimpering while asking for Mommy and Daddy and Mami and Papi. Some adults, noted as consular workers in ProPublica’s video of the recording, can be heard speaking Spanish and talking about identification numbers to the children. Border Patrol agents can also be heard telling the children not to cry as they ask to be taken to family members.
At one point a Border Patrol agent can be heard making a joke in Spanish about the detained children, saying, “Well, we have an orchestra here,” he jokes. “What’s missing is a conductor.”
No children in the facilities are allowed to talk to journalists, ProPublica reports, making the audio recording one of the only ways to hear from the children inside the detention facilities directly. Almost 2,000 children have been separated from their parents since April 19 through May 31, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
One young girl, six-year-old Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid can be heard repeatedly asking for her aunt, saying she memorized her phone number. A consular official eventually helps her call her aunt after many distressed pleas. Her aunt, who is in the U.S. with her daughter seeking asylum from gang violence in El Salvador, told ProPublica she felt helpless to protect Alison, and was also worried if she tried it would affect her own immigration status.
The recording was given to Jennifer Harbury, a civil rights attorney who lives in Texas, by someone who did not want to be identified but was inside one of the detention facilities, according to ProPublica.