SAN DIEGO – US Senator Kamala Harris confessed to having a broken heart after meeting undocumented mothers separated from their children on Friday in a detention center on the southern border of California with Mexico.
“My heart is broken,” the Democratic Party legislator told reporters after taking a private tour of an immigration detention center in southern San Diego, where she learned of the stories of three mothers who were separated from their children when they arrived at the border.
“These mothers have given testimony, they have shared their stories... of a human rights abuse being committed by the US government,” she said in a brief statement to the media outside the compound.
The senator was accompanied by hundreds of protesters who gathered in Otay Mesa, where the detention center is located, to give their support to families separated as a result of the “zero tolerance” policy against immigrants implemented by the Donald Trump administration.
Federal authorities have separated some 2,300 children, mostly in Texas, from their parents as a result of this policy, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a situation that led to widespread rejection and prompted Trump to sign an executive order this week prohibiting the separation of immigrant families.
Harris asked not to be fooled by Trump’s executive order which is rescinding this practice, given that the problem was caused by the federal government itself in its eagerness to tighten up immigration policies, which in her opinion has “denigrated” the communities that were forced to seek refuge in the country.
The former California attorney general reported that while the center’s officials claim that detained immigrants can make phone calls at no cost to their children and family members, they are actually charged for it, according to testimonies she has heard.
She said that undocumented immigrants get one dollar a day for their work, but that each minute of calling costs them about 85 cents.
The place is home to dozens of immigrants who, after being processed by federal authorities, are waiting for an immigration judge to evaluate their case.
The group Pueblo Sin Fronteras recently reported that at least nine women in this compound have been separated from their children once they surrendered at the border to seek political asylum.
“These mothers I spoke to think they are alone and we need to remind them that they are not alone and that we are with them,” Harris said. “This does not reflect who we are as a country.”