Audio captured from inside a facility used to detain migrant children separated from their families emerged Monday amid scrutiny of the administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy.
ProPublica published the audio, which depicts workers attempting to gather information from children as they cry out for family members. Through sobs and sniffles, the children repeatedly ask for their “mami” and “papa.”
The conversations are conducted in Spanish, with government employees asking children where they’re from and who they were with before arriving at the facility.
“Well we have an orchestra here, right? What we’re missing is a conductor,” a border patrol agent is heard joking through the children's cries.
One child says they are from Guatemala. Another says she is from El Salvador, and repeatedly asks for her aunt to come pick her up.
“My mommy says I’ll go with my aunt, and that she’ll come pick me up there as quickly as possible, so I can go with her,” the child says.
The audio comes from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforcement facility. It was first given to a civil rights attorney who has worked in Texas, who then gave it to ProPublica, the outlet reported.
The news outlet reported that the children in the recording are roughly between 4 and 10 years old, and had been in the facility for less than 24 hours.
The audio file quickly went viral. Reporters played the sound in the White House briefing room as they waited for press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to arrive on Monday afternoon.
This audio’s playing off someone’s laptop in the White House briefing room. (Reporters had gathered in here, awaiting briefing, before this story posted.) @PressSec has not arrived yet. https://t.co/dZyLWj0RhO— Hallie Jackson (@HallieJackson) June 18, 2018
The White House is facing growing pressure to end its so-called zero tolerance immigration policy that has led to the separation of about 2,000 children from their parents over a six-week period.
Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE announced the policy earlier this year, saying the Department of Justice would criminally prosecute all adults attempting to illegally cross the southern border into the U.S. As a result, families who crossed together would in some cases be separated, he said, with children held in detention facilities.
President TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE has repeatedly blamed Democrats for the separation policy, despite his administration issuing the directive that led to the practice. On Monday, he doubled down on the policy, saying the U.S. “will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility.”
Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized the policy as "cruel" and "inhumane," though they do not appear close to a legislative agreement over how to end the practice.