Last updated on Jun 19, 2018, 07:02 pm
Written byGogona Saikia
Amid the ongoing controversy on the US' child-separation policy, heart-wrenching audio has surfaced from a Customs and Border Protection facility.
ProPublica, an investigative journalism publication, claims 10 children are heard. They repeatedly cry for their "papi" (father) and "mami" (mother). At some moments, they sound as if they can hardly breathe.
This has intensified the calls for a stop to the child-separation policy.
The White House had enacted a "zero tolerance" policy for illegal immigrants in May, which treats undocumented entries into the US as criminal cases.
While children of such immigrants were separated from their families, the adults are being held separately in "jail settings" as they await prosecution.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has been criticized heavily for the policy's harshness.
During April 19-May 31, at least 2,000 children had been separated, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed.
Thousands demonstrated against this 'inhumane' policy. Human rights advocates have also criticized it, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said it is a "serious violation of the rights of the children."
All the surviving former First Ladies have joined the protest.
The latest clips have only boosted the protests. As children are heard crying, a Border Patrol agent jokes, "Well, we have an orchestra here."
Most are likely to be aged 4-10 years who had been there less than 24 hours, ProPublica claims.
The child that stood out the most was a six-year-old Salvadoran girl, who kept requesting officials to call her aunt.
When ProPublica called the aunt, she said the child's mother had paid a smuggler $7000 over a month ago to get them to the US.
They crossed Guatemala, Mexico, then across the border and into the US, but were separated right before their destination.
If she helped her niece, she said, she and her daughter too will be in trouble.
Amid criticism, Trump admitted he "hate(s) children being taken away," but asserted the US will take a strong stand against illegal immigration.
"You look at what's happening in Europe, you look at what's happening in other places. We can't allow that to happen here."
Instead, he blamed the Democrats for "forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible legislative agenda."
There are two bills on the table: a hardline bill drafted by House judiciary Bob Goodlatte, and a compromised Republican bill.
The latter, it's reported, would provide for $25bn to make Trump's envisioned wall along the US-Mexico border, and would detail procedures pertaining to giving young, undocumented immigrants a permanent residency and ultimately, US citizenship, under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.
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