The Hidden Horrors of “Zero Tolerance” Policies at the Border

Immigrants are facing mass trials and family separation at the US-Mexico border, as the government implements “zero tolerance” policies directed at those trying to enter the United States. Mass trials for crossing the border, and scattered cases of family separations, have taken place since “Operation Streamline” was first introduced in 2005. But last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the federal government will now prosecute “100 percent of illegal southwest border crossings.” For more, we speak in Austin, Texas, with independent journalist Debbie Nathan. Her new report for The Intercept is headlined “Hidden Horrors of ‘Zero Tolerance’—Mass Trials and Children Taken from Their Parents.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to the US-Mexico border, where a reporter obtained a recording of immigrant parents who have been separated from their children. The audio is from a mass trial of dozens of immigrants in a courtroom in Brownsville, Texas. Standing shoulder to shoulder, men and women, in shackles, plead guilty to the crime of illegal entry during a mass trial. If you listen closely, you can hear the clinking of their chains as Federal Magistrate Judge Ronald Morgan asks a man if he would like to say anything before he is sentenced.

JUDGE RONALD MORGAN: Anything else you wish to say then before sentence?


JUDGE RONALD MORGAN: OK. Mr. Hernández-Rodríguez, anything you with to say before sentence?

MR. HERNÁNDEZ-RODRÍGUEZ: Sí. También sobre mi hijo ¿yo lo traigo conmigo? Aquí me lo separaron.

TRANSLATOR: Also, I was bringing my child with me, and we got separated.

JUDGE RONALD MORGAN: OK. Like I just told Mr. Hernández-López, my understanding, the way it’s supposed to work, is because you’re from a country other than Mexico, you’re going to be sent to a…

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