Parents say Border Patrol asked migrant toddler to pick which parent got to stay with her in US: report

Parents say Border Patrol asked migrant toddler to pick which parent got to stay with her in US: report

A Honduran couple said a Border Patrol agent asked their toddler to choose which of her parents she and her two siblings would be allowed to remain with her in the U.S., according to NPR.

"The agent asked her who she wanted to go with, mom or dad," Tania, the three-year-old girl’s mother, told NPR through an interpreter. "And the girl, because she is more attached to me, she said mom. But when they started to take [my husband] away, the girl started to cry. The officer said, 'You said [you want to go] with mom.' "


The family is subject to Migrant Protection Protocols, a program introduced by the Trump administration that requires thousands of Central American migrants to wait in Mexico while their immigration cases are adjudicated in the U.S., according to the outlet.

Tania told NPR she and her husband Joseph were assisted by a doctor who examined their daughter, Sofi, and insisted the family should not be separated.

At a court hearing last Wednesday, the family’s lawyer, Linda Rivas, who works with Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, said the family should be removed from MPP due to Sofi’s heart condition.

Immigration Judge Nathan Herbert said he lacked the authority to remove the family from the program but told lawyers for the Department of Homeland Security to take note of the medical concerns.

On Thursday, Tania said, the agent spoke to her and asked Sofi which parent she would rather go with, according to NPR.

"I was going to be separated from my children and my wife, and I would have to go back to Juárez on my own," Joseph said through an interpreter. "I felt devastated."

The doctor returned Friday morning and argued to another Border Patrol agent that the family must remain together, after which the family was released later that day to a migrant shelter in El Paso before flying to join relatives in the Midwest, according to NPR.

DHS guidelines exempt those with “known physical/mental health issues” from MPP. The Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.