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tv   Nightline  ABC  June 19, 2018 12:37am-1:08am PDT

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one thing leads to another ♪ ♪ you're loving each other one look and you never look back it happens like that ♪ this is "nightline." >> tonight, crisis at the border. undocumented children separated from their parents at the u.s. border. >> immigrants are welcome here! >> is this child abuse? the white house making no apologies. >> claiming these children and their parents are treated inhumanely is not true. >> and president trump holding a hard line on his administration's zero tolerance policy. >> the united states will not be a mie grantd c a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility. plus, the horrors back home. why so many south and central americans are willing to risk
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living like this to come to the u.s. we're tracing their steps back to the nightmares they left behind. the gang violence, persecution, starvation, and fear that brings them to the american border. but first the "nightline" 5.
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good evening, and thank you for joining us. i'm rebecca jarvis. it's the practice that's ignited a firestorm across the nation. the trump administration today holding firm on its zero tolerance immigration policy that separates children from their parents. tonight the debate over this erupting border crisis and inside an immigration holding facility in texas where conditions have critics enraged. here's abc's marcus moore. >> reporter: it is a scene many americans are struggling to make sense of. chainlink fences, cages temporarily holding more than 1,000 immigrants, many of them children here in mcallen, texas at the central progs center, one of america's largest immigration processing facilities. men, women, and children wrapped in mylar blankets as a means to stay warm. this one-minute 34-second video along with these images today released by u.s. borders and
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customs protection among the few images we have that provide a glimpse into america's current immigration crisis currently unfolding along the southern border. >> we just finished a tour inside the facility, and it was -- it was really almost overwhelming. yesterday i was part of a group of journalists permitted inside that center. but our own cameras were not allowed. there was a lot of people, men held in one part of the facility, boys in another section, and then there were moms with their children in another part of the facility. this is the center we were allowed to see. for many detainees it is the first stop after being apprehended. here or at another facility.ated it is images like these that have now become a flash-point in the trump administration's zero tolerance policy, calling for parents and their children to be separated if the parents have crossed the border illegally. and now in a recording first obtained by propublica you can hear the desperate sobbing of children from one day last week.
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tell us how you got a hold of this recording that purports to be audio of kids being separated from their parents. >> you can listen to it and it's pretty clear what it is. i know the whistleblower. the whistleblower was just horrified by the sound of the children weeping, as is everybody else. and made a recording of it. and came to me for legal advice and asked me if i would forward it to ginger thompson of propublica and release it to the public. and i've done so. >> reporter: customs and border protection has declined to comment on this audio because much of what's happening is playing out in closed-door facilities across the almost 2,000-mile border, we are relying on the firsthand accounts of people who have experienced these centers to give us a snapshot of this crisis. antar davidson worked as a
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counselor at estrella del norte, a government contracted shelter in tucson, arizona. >> these were three siblings that had been separated from their mother the night prior. two younger siblings were holding the older brother for support, and he was crying. i said to him at this point, i said, bro, you need to be strong. i know this is difficult, but you need to kind of be strong for your siblings. and he looks at me with tears streaming in his face, and he says, how? how can i be strong? i don't know where my mom is. look at my siblings. i can't do anything. they're trying to separate us. to which i could only respond by putting my head down. >> the idea that the kids and parents are being ripped apart permanently is horrific. it's scary. it's, you know, devastating. and it also has enormous impockeimpacts in terms of the health of children and their ability to
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become healthy adults. >> reporter: dr. colleen craft is the president of the american academy of pediatrics. >> as a pediatrician i know what it takes to build child health. i know what it takes to disrupt child health. and i was seeing in front of me the health of these children being disrupted by the removal of the one constant, the one person in their life who could help to shelter them during times of crisis and trial. >> reporter: in april she visited a shelter in the rio grande valley of texas that houses children. >> with very young children we know the brain does most of its developments between birth and 3 years of age. and so a day of separation there is like a week to a move separation for those of us who are older. so the worst things happen to the youngest children, it happens in that age group. >> reporter: it is the emotional imagery of children that has moved many to feel outraged.
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this now famous photo was taken by getty photographer john moore. he says the 2-year-old girl was ripped from her mother's arms. >> i spoke with the mother very briefly. i asked her where she came from, and she said she had come with her daughter from honduras. and they'd been traveling a whole month. >> reporter: he's been covering immigration for ten years and wrote the book "undocumented: immigration and the militarization of the united states-mexico border." >> i only had a few seconds to get down on the child's level. i photographed from the ground. and i think i took maybe seven pictures while she was crying and looking up at her mother, who was being searched by a guard. and it was very hard for me to see as a father. >> reporter: today in brownsville, texas members of congress toured the casa depresidente children's center. >> what do you want people to know about what you saw in there and what it means about this issue overall? >> well, i think it goes back to the fact that in the last month
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or so the united states government through this administration has initiated a policy to take kids away from their parents. it's not right. it's immoral. it's inhumane. and we need to stop that. >> reporter: protests across the country have echoed this sentiment. this is one of the groups of protesters that are outside the facility here in mcallen, and they're saying "no estan solos," telling the people inside they're not alone. >> reporter: all four living first ladies have strongly opposed separating families. laura bush penned an op-ed in the "washington post" yesterday writing "i live in a border state. i appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries. but this zero tolerance policy is cruel. it is immoral. and it breaks my heart." first lady melania trump also recently commented publicly on the issue saying, she hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform.
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she said, "we need to be a country that follows all laws but also a country that governs with heart." president trump today staunchly defended his administration's immigration policy. >> the united states will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility. it won't be. >> reporter: at a conference today for the national sheriffs association, dhs secretary kirstjen nielsen offered no apologies. >> to a select few in the media, congress, and the advocacy community i'd like to start with a message for you. this department will no longer stand by and watch you attack law enforcement for enforcing the laws passed by congress. >> reporter: she doubled down at the white house press briefing today. >> we have some of the highest detention standards in the country. claiming these children and their parents are treated inhumanely is not true. >> have you seen the photos of children in cages? have you heard the audio clip of
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these children wailing that just came out today? >> i have -- i have not seen something that came out today. but i have been to detention centers. and again, i would reference you to our standards. i would reference you to the care provided, not just by the department of homeland security but by the department of health and human services when they get to hhs. >> but is is that the image of this country you want out there, children -- >> the image i want of this country is an immigration system that secures our borders and upholds our humanitarian ideals. >> reporter: over the weekend former trump chief strategist steve bannon appeared on "this week." >> we ran on a policy very simply to stop mass illegal immigration and limit illegal immigration, get our sovereignty back and to help our workers. okay? and so he went to a zero tolerance policy. zero tolerance. it's a crime to come across illegally. and children get separated. >> reporter: as the fight rages on, and with policy makers at odds, it is the experience of those detained children that is of greatest concern. for "nightline" i'm marcus moore
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in mcallen, texas. next, the dangers in south and central america that drive families to seek safety in the united states. if your moderate to severe ulcerative colitis or crohn's symptoms are holding you back, and your current treatment hasn't worked well enough, it may be time for a change. ask your doctor about entyvio, the only biologic developed and approved just for uc and crohn's. entyvio works at the site of inflammation in the gi tract and is clinically proven to help many patients achieve both symptom relief and remission. infusion and serious allergic reactions can happen during or after treatment. entyvio may increase risk of infection, which can be serious. pml, a rare, serious, potentially fatal brain infection caused by a virus may be possible. this condition has not been reported with entyvio. tell your doctor if you have an infection, experience frequent infections
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(sound of footsteps) (sound of car door opening) (car door closes) (sound of engine starting) ♪ ♪
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(sound of footsteps) (sound of car door opening) (car door closes) (sound of engine starting) the images we've seen of immigration holding facilities have shocked and disturbed many americans. but the horrors that some migrants have escaped in their home countries are often much worse. tonight we see inside the lives of desperate mothers and children caught between impossible choices. here's abc's tom llamas.
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>> reporter: for many viewers out there the idea that your child could be taken away, that your child could end up in a place like this is likely unthinkable. but for so many who are making their way to the border, what they are leaving could be so much worse. this woman named jocelyn says she and her 14-year-old son had to flee their home in brazil because of her abusive husband. she says when she and her son illegally crossed the u.s. border with mexico last summer her son was taken away by immigration officials. he would be taken more than 1,000 miles away to a facility in chicago. jocelyn, detained for more than
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20 days, now lives in a shelter in el paso, texas as she waits to hear about her asylum claim. i asked her if now knowing what happened to her son would she still have crossed the border. she told me "it's a hard question to answer because it's horrible there and it's horrible he here" after what's happened to her. the trump administration has signaled they hope this policy of separating parents from children will make people including families think twice about illegally crossing the border. >> if you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally. >> reporter: but for so many parents like jocelyn, they do not feel they have a choice. over the last few years "nightline" has traced the migrant trail. to countries where many of the migrants say it's just too dangerous to call home. two years ago my colleague juju chang traveled to honduras, where statistics show a woman is
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murdered every 16 hours. this in a nation smaller than ohio. a perfect storm of sexism, machismo gang culture, and guns. the girls with nowhere to turn and a government in many ways unable to help. in honduras juju met this family, at the time in a safehouse. their daughter sharing their story in english the best way she could. >> what happened to your mom? >> she get sexual violence in the city that we were living. >> reporter: her mother brutally raped by a powerful man in their town. a man her mother says threatened her into silence.
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she says she believed he already killed another woman and didn't spend a day in prison. the irish charity that runs this shelter ultimately would help the family relocate to another country, a safer place. but it was a far cry from the daughter's dreams of america. >> you'd like to go to america? >> yeah. we want to go over there because we love it over there. we're going to have more opportunities. >> and to be safe. >> yeah. >> reporter: in 2016 u.s. authorities found 82% of female asylum seekers from central america had a credible fear of persecution or violence. however, last week attorney general jeff sessions announcing that domestic violence will not constitute grounds for asylum and neither would gang violence. >> the decision basically states that if you're fleeing violence that is inflicted by a non-governmental actor, i.e. your spouse who's abusing you in the home or a gang who's abusing
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you in the community, you no longer qualify for protection. >> reporter: right now widespread and brutal gang warfare has made the small country of el salvador one of the most dangerous places on earth. in 2016 "nightline's" dan harris traveled to the capital. where he met a family that was living in fear for their lives. >> we can't go to where she lives because she moves around constantly. she basically lives in hiding from the gangs. so we're picking her up now at a mcdonald's and taking her to a safe location to do an interview. hola. >> reporter: this mother and her children telling "nightline" how gang members burst into their apartment one night, firing shots. >> that's a gunshot wound? wow. >> so you put your leg up to
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protect her head from the gun? did you tell the cops? >> no. >> why not? are you still scared? do you miss your brother? yeah, no kid should have to live like this. >> reporter: they have an older brother. their mother sent him north to save his life. he was one of the lucky ones, granted asylum in the u.s. horror stories like these, advocates say, will continue to push people north towards the u.s. despite the potential risks. >> we've had mothers say to us they would rather see their children die on the way to the united states than die on their back doorstep. this is really a situation where these families, these parents, these children feel that they have no choice, they have to get out. >> reporter: back in texas jocelyn took her case to court. she sued the government on behalf of herself and hundreds of other families who had been
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separated. more an eight months later after speaking with abc and despite a pending lawsuit, this mother and her son were reunited in el paso. and tonight, as thousands of children go to bed alone, many likely will dream of a scene like this, reuniting with their families. next, the political basketball. kimmel and cruz hit the court for charity. i was wondering if an electric toothbrush really cleans better than a manual. and my hygienist says it does but they're not all the same. who knew? i had no idea. so she said, look for one that's shaped like a dental tool with a round brush head. go pro with oral-b. oral-b's rounded brush head surrounds each tooth to gently remove more plaque, and oral-b is the first electric toothbrush brand accepted by the american dental association for its effectiveness and safety. my mouth feels so clean. i'll only use an oral-b.
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finally tonight, the blobfish basketball classic living up to its name. comedian jimmy kimmel and texas senator ted cruz squaring off this weekend in the highly anticipated blobfish basketball classic. their rivalry and that name stemming from some of kimmel's late-night laugh lines. >> he looks like a blobfish. >> match-up raising over $80,000 for two children's charities. an astound k display of
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unathleticism with cruz edging out an 11-9 win after two hours of terrible basketball. kimmel taking the loss in good spirits tonight. >> i promise, i make one promise, i will never, ever play basketball again. >> taking trash talk to a whole new level. thank you for watching "nightline." and as always, we are online at our "nightline" facebook page. good night, america.
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