by Cindy Knoebel
W, a 12-year-old boy and his 4-year-old brother fled Guatamala with their uncle (their guardian) to escape the threats of violence in their dangerous neighborhood. Their mother lives in Miami. When they arrived at the U.S. border, the boys were separated from their uncle and spent 10 hours in a cold “freezer box” at a Customs and Border Control (CBP) facility in Texas.
"We were only given some cookies to eat. It was cold. My brother was given a blanket, but I was not given one," W says in his translated declaration. "All of our possessions were thrown away."
The boys were transferred to the Clint, TX CBP facility, where they stayed for 13 days. "I was able to call my mother once," W recounts. "My brother has a learning disability. He cannot speak very clearly, but I understand him. I have taken care of him since he was a baby. He trusts me."
According to W, he and his brother were house in a room with dozens of other children some as young as 2 years old. "I do my best to help other children who are sad," W says. "My brother and I have not been given any new clothes. We have only bathed once. Our clothes are the same clothes we had on when we arrived. We were given toothbrushes, but my brother lost his, and they will not replace it."
Children caring for each other in these facilities. Imagine being 12 years old and caring for other children who are 2 to 4…doing your best to help.
This is the first in a series of taped declarations from interviews made by lawyers and investigators in support of the Flores Settlement Agreement, which outlines standards for how long unaccompanied minors (or those separate from parents) can be held in custody, and the standards for their care while in custody.
This declaration was provided to IMM Print by Amanda, who creates daily paintings incorporating quotes from declarations by children in immigrant detention or other involved parties, and Sherri, who records the legal declarations to give children and involved families a voice. Please see nomorekidsincages.wordpress.com.