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Economy & Labor , US

At the Texas-Mexico Border, Her Son Begged Not to be Taken. They Took Him Anyway.

by Rikha Sharma Rani June 7, 2018

This article was originally published in The Lily.


At the time of Valquiria’s credible fear interview, the whereabouts of her 7-year old son were unknown.

‘I Felt My Heart Being Taken Away From Me,’ Says His Mother

Valquiria had never spent a day apart from her 7-year-old son, B, until March, when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whisked the little boy into a car near the Paso del Norte port of entry in El Paso, Tex., and drove away.

Valquiria had no idea where her son was being taken, or why.

“They didn’t explain anything,” she says. “They only told me that I couldn’t keep my child and they were going to take him to a shelter.” One ICE agent, she remembers, seemed to relish her agony. “He told me, ‘we’re taking him, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’”

B begged her not to let them take him away.

“I don’t want to leave you, mama,” she recalls him sobbing. At one point, he looked up at her and asked, “Are they going to kill you?”

After interviewing Valquiria for 80 minutes, an asylum officer from the Department of Homeland Security determined that she had a credible fear of torture if she were to return to Brazil. The asterisk leads to a hand-written footnote at the bottom of the page indicating that Valquiria has been separated from her child.

It was hardly an irrational fear for a boy who, by the age of 7, had already been the target of multiple death threats. Valquiria and her husband had asked a group of drug dealers to stop using and selling drugs outside their home in the southeastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

Valquiria had threatened to call the police, hoping the men would be deterred enough to move elsewhere. It was, she knew, a pointless threat. At night, she would see fully uniformed police officers from her town smoking and congregating with the dealers— a familiar sight in a country rife with police corruption and state-sanctioned violence.

In November, after she threatened to alert the police in a neighboring town, the men painted death threats on the family’s home. More threats followed. Her husband and the couple’s 15-year-old daughter fled to the United States last winter and are in the process of seeking asylum.

Valquiria followed with the couple’s son in March, flying from Sao Paolo to Mexico and eventually making her way to the Paso del Norte international bridge and into El Paso.

Watching as a U.S. government car pulled away with B in it, Valquiria, an evangelical Christian, did the only thing she could think to do. She looked skyward and asked God to protect her boy.

“I felt my heart being taken away from me,” she says.

Read full article here.

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