This is intended to be a a first look at how undocumented immigrants with children come to the attention of ICE. This new series is not limited to documenting only children and parents who are separated from each other, and cannot guarantee that separation occurred for all the families mentioned. Instead, this series seeks only to illustrate how many families come to the attention of ICE and what a child-isolation policy might mean in those contexts.
I was struck by a particularly horrifying story today. It’s not unique. They’re never unique. But it’s one human example of how a woman and her child came to the attention of ICE.
A 47-year-old deputy with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office was arrested Sunday on allegations he repeatedly raped the 4-year-old daughter of an undocumented immigrant, threatening to deport her if she dared report him to the authorities.
It is not clear how long the mother was aware of the rapes, ….
Investigators say the deputy may have been raping the girl for months, if not years.
Public statements indicate that this particular woman is not likely to be deported (in the short run) because her testimony is needed in the rape trial, but there is nothing to guarantee that the child hasn’t already been taken away from the mother or that the mother is not currently being detained.
Here’s a bit more about what we know:
“This suspect utilized to his advantage to place the mother in fear that she would be deported if she did report it,” the [Bexar County] sheriff said, adding that the “little girl now is safe.”
The department is petitioning to give the mother protected status pending the outcome of the case.
Keep in mind that protected status is not guaranteed, and that being protected from deportation is not the same as being protected from incarceration. Indeed, there are many cases where ICE has used undocumented status as a reason to detain a witness needed for testimony in a criminal prosecution, since otherwise the witness might leave after deciding not to cooperate.
Most US citizens are free to decide to report a child rapist without fear that the result will be the 4 year old child being placed in a cage where caregivers are forbidden to provide physical comfort, touch, or hugs. Whether or not this child is currently isolated in a detention center tent or cage (and we don’t know the child isn’t isolated right now) this mother was placed in the situation where she had to choose between being able to comfort a child after previous rapes, knowing that made future rapes more likely, or stopping the rapes by taking actions likely to guarantee that the child would be deprived of love and comfort to offset the horror and injury of the rapes already completed.
This is the result of the joint efforts of the US Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice, bless their hearts.
I cannot permit myself to think about that mother’s choices; they are too awful. I cannot permit myself to think about the child’s suffering, or the mother’s; they are too awful. This story should simply be an impossibility.