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amna @Nawazistan
, 29 tweets, 8 min read Read on Twitter
Good morning y'all. I want to update you on the story of Angelica and Sofi. My colleague, @frankncarlson and I met them in a Juarez shelter on Tuesday night. Angelica is Sofi's grandmother. She's raised Sofi since Sofi was 4-months old. She was 3 when we met her this week.
We first told their story on Wednesday night's @NewsHour . Watch the piece to hear Angelica tell her own story:…
In short (for those who don't want to watch 5 mins of video): the family was targeted by Mexican cartels. Angelica has seen her own family members killed. She's buried her own son and grandchildren. Leaving Mexico, she says, wasn't an option, if they wanted to stay alive.
Sofi, she says, has seen and lived through things no child should see and live through. They were both receiving psychological counseling at the Juarez shelter.
Angelica crossed legally into the US on Wednesday morning with Sofi, at the Paso Del Norte bridge into El Paso. She refused to cross illegally because she wanted to respect the laws of the land. She's broken no laws, she said, she just wants to seek asylum and keep Sofi alive.
US officials have repeatedly said anyone looking to enter the US should do so legally, at a port of entry, where they'll be processed in turn, and won't be subject to family separation. That's not what happened with Angelica and Sofi.
Angelica carried with her Sofi's original birth certificate and a document from the Mexican equivalent of child protective services showing she had legal guardianship of Sofi.
She also had a contact number for her daughter - Sofi's mother - who had crossed into the US recently with her younger child. She provided all this info to CBP officials at the crossing. I was behind her in line at the processing center and heard her do so.
Angelica and Sofi were taken into CBP custody Wednesday morning for additional interviews. This is a normal part of the process. For two days, they were held at the Paso Del Norte facility. This, we're told, is also totally normal. Often those initial interviews take 2-3 days.
Friday afternoon we got a call from Angelica. That morning, she says, CBP officials told her she would be free to go -- in other words, no criminal prosecution, no fraud, no reason to suspect she is anything other than a legitimate asylum seeker - but they had to take Sofi.
According to her, she was told bc she's not the birth mother, she couldn't leave with her granddaughter - with whom she legally entered the US. They took the birth certificate from her and asked her to say goodbye.
Sofi, she says, was hysterical. She screamed and cried, begging her grandmother not to leave her. Angelica said at one point Sofi said "let's just go back. let's go back to mexico. please don't leave me here with the police."
Angelica was released to a shelter in Texas, without Sofi, who remains in government custody. She was given no info on who to contact about Sofi, no case number, no idea where she would be.
My colleagues @frankncarlson, patty morales and I made contact with Sofi's mother. She says she was contacted by government officials on Thursday night, told her daughter was in their custody, and that she had to wait 5 days before a social worker contacted her with more info.
She was sent a standard packet of Family Reunification papers - she will now need to fill out and apply to get her own daughter released from govt custody. She says she, also, was given no info on where Sofi is being held, how she's doing, nor a case number to try and find her.
We've asked @HHSGov specifically about this case, and received no response.
On a recent media call w/ @DHSgov, officials said separations only happened if there was evidence of fraud (smuggling or trafficking of children). I asked how they established custodial relationships in those initial @CBP interviews: documents, they said, and observing behavior.
Multiple US officials, from @POTUS @realDonaldTrump , to @USAGSessions , to @DHSgov @SecNielsen , have said families crossing legally - with no evidence of fraud - would not be separated.
Angelica and Sofi were separated on Friday morning, Two days after @POTUS @realDonaldTrump signed this executive order ending family separation.…
Sofi's family - all here legally - have no idea where she is, or how she is, and have no way to contacting her. They have no idea if she's continuing to receive the psychological counseling she was getting in Juarez.
Sofi went to bed last night and woke up this morning in a strange bed, in a strange place, surrounded by strangers. She turned 4 this week, while in US government custody.
I've talked to multiple lawyers, advocates, and volunteers who tell me how impossible it is to find children inside the @HHSGov system. There are now a # of people working to find Sofi. If you can help, contact me here or at

More via colleague @frankncarlson: spoke to Ruben Garcia last night. Still much unknown, but he thinks CPB removed Angelica's granddaughter bc she lacked proper paperwork, ie power of attorney issued by judge. Angelica did have birth cert + guardianship doc but that wasn't enough
So many of you are now following/have shared this thread so we'll keep adding reporting as we learn more. You've also sent me messages specifically about Sofi. Again, as we learn more, we'll share if/when it's appropriate, keeping in mind her and her family's privacy.
Here's where we are: we are working on filling the void of understanding on WHY this separation happened in the first place, since all public statements from US officials indicated it wouldn't.
Also, if there are other instances in which families entered legally, were not criminally prosecuted, and still separated from children. Sofi's story is the one we know about. We don't know if this happened anywhere else.
An update on Sofi: the line of communication between the govt agency in charge of unaccompanied kids and her birth mother has been opened. Her mother says she still has no case number, no update on Sofi's well being, no idea where she is.
Important to remember: this process - the one caring for kids, and working on connecting them with their parents - is separate and distinct from the one that met Angelica & Sofi at the border, decided Angelica wasn't a criminal threat, and separated her from her granddaughter.
So we're continuing to follow both paths, and will share what we can, when we can, about Sofi and her family.
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