The sound of children crying for their parents at the border

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(CNN) — “I don’t want them to stop my father,” a child whispers in Spanish. “I don’t want them to deport him.”

So begins an excruciating audio clip of children howling for their parents after being separated from them at the US-Mexico border.

The audio was published Monday by the investigative nonprofit ProPublica. It adds a visceral element to the coverage of a controversial Trump administration policy of taking undocumented immigrant children from their families and putting them in government facilities on US borders.

Cries of “Mami” and “Papá” build over a cacophony of wails and sobs. An adult on the recording compares the wrenching cries to an “orchestra.”

“What’s missing is a conductor,” says the man in Spanish, whom ProPublica identifies as a border agent.

According to ProPublica, the audio was recorded last week inside a US Customs and Border Protection detention facility. The person who made the recording gave the audio to civil rights attorney Jennifer Harbury, who provided it to ProPublica.

CNN has not been able to verify the source of the tape nor the events that reportedly occur on the audio. Harbury confirmed that she provided the clip to ProPublica but declined to provide further detail. CNN has reached out to CBP for a response.

The person who made the recording estimated that the children are between 4 and 10 years old. “It appeared that they had been at the detention center for less than 24 hours, so their distress at having been separated from their parents was still raw,” the ProPublica report said. “Consulate officials tried to comfort them with snacks and toys. But the children were inconsolable.”

The person who made the recording asked to not be identified for fear of retaliation, according to ProPublica. Harbury told ProPublica the person who recorded it was a client who “heard the children’s weeping and crying, and was devastated by it.”

The children heave and choke on their words. An adult admonishes a child to stop crying — “no llores.”

One child begs for someone to call her aunt. She says she knows her phone number and that her mother has said her aunt will come for her.

ProPublica said it was able to reach the girl’s aunt using her phone number. According to ProPublica, the aunt said she could not help her niece because she and her own 9-year-old daughter are seeking asylum. The aunt told ProPublica that the little girl is in a shelter, and she has been warned by authorities that her mother may be deported without her.

“It was the hardest moment in my life,” the woman said, according to ProPublica. “She’s crying and begging me to go get her. She says, ‘I promise I’ll behave, but please get me out of here. I’m all alone.”

The clip was widely shared online. Journalists could be heard listening to the audio as they waited for a White House press briefing to start.

When asked about the recording during the press briefing, Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen stood by the conditions and standards of care in the facilities.

“I would reference you to the care provided not just by the Department of Homeland Security but by the department by Health and Human Services when they get to HHS,” she said.

Two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the Trump administration’s practice of taking undocumented immigrant children from their families and putting them in government facilities on US borders, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS. Only 28% approve.

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  • Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

    Law signed by Pres. Bill Clinton, held in place by W and expanded under B. Hussain and now all of a sudden, its President Trump’s fault. The only reason the demoncrats care is because its getting close to the election and their “red wave” is failing. Now the “Useful Idiots” are continuing on with limited information!

  • C

    When are people going to understand that the poor, whining kids are being used as pawns in a game designed to increase the number of adults who, with the liberal media’s help, believe that The Democrats are their only hope for the future? The Democrats only want to create dependents that will vote for them. Period. By the way, if Democrats are so anxious about keeping families together, why do they wholeheartedly support Planned Parenthood separating a mother from her unborn child?

  • Old Bob

    Why should we worry about their children. Their parents aren’t, If they were they wouldn’t put them in this situation

    • NEW Bob

      You a Christian? If so, read what Jesus says, that’s why we care for them.

      If not, well, that would actually make sense.

  • Rcd

    shame on Fox 17 for participating in this obvious form of media manipulation sponsored by CNN. Fox 17 does a disservice to its community and its viewership by it’s involvement. It shows bias and destroys any credibility you thought you had.

  • Unslaved

    If it weren’t for police, it wouldn’t matter what some slimeball politician decides is “the law” because there wouldn’t be any evil puppets to enforce the wishes of the slimeball. The police and military basically make it so the most evil and disgusting pieces of trash that call themselves human get to run our lives. Whether it’s a “left” policy or a “right” one, police will perform evil for a paycheck and they don’t care how evil they are as long as they get paid by their masters.

  • J.B.

    The kind of people who try to smuggle children illegally over a foreign country’s borders,
    Are the same kind of people who as soon as they get here start pimping them out on street corners.
    It is called human trafficking…
    This “ripped from the parents arms” and thrown into “concentration camps” propaganda is complete BS and a disservice to the very “children” they proclaim to care about so much.
    political grandstanding and propaganda at its worst.

  • Pips

    “CNN has not been able to verify the source of the tape nor the events that reportedly occur on the audio. Harbury confirmed that she provided the clip to ProPublica but declined to provide further detail.”

    That’s all anyone needs to read.

  • Paul Brandt

    First clue this is fake news: dateline CNN. The separate detention of children is law, it’s meant to keep children from the risks of gang violence and rape. Not sure why the liberal press would want that for children? A better solution would be to prevent illegal immigration in the first place. How about a nice big border wall?

  • Jessie

    This is one of the most pathetic attempts at distraction that the left has attempted to date, Oh, wait except for the entire Russian lie.
    There was zero outrage before the IG report came out, and the tainted DOJ/FBI scandal.

    Do not attempt to illegally enter the US with your children, and you will not be arrested, nor your children separated from you.

    How about if you passionate liberals focused on fixing our problems, and let the government take care of the criminals.

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