HHS Returned Back To Migrant Mom, Her Child, Filthy And Full Of Lice After 85 Days

Image result for photo of Olivia Caceres with child returned to her

The following includes an update and a case study of a child being returned to his Mom after having been forcibly removed because of the republican President Donald Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy which was started around April 6, 2018 as per the Attorney General Jeff Sessions’  memo and was ended by the president on the 20th of June 2018 due to public pressure.

For video on story: Asylum-Seeking Mother Reunited With Her Baby After US Kept Apart/ KPBS …

Here is the rest of the story…

On June 21, 2018, Delphine Schrank and Julia Love of Reuters penned the following report, ‘Are you the mother?’ A woman’s search for baby taken by U.S. immigration’


“Now nearly 20 months old, Mateo was returned to his family on Feb. 8 after a battle across borders, officialdom and languages. He was filthy and terrified of the dark, his mother said. Months later, the boy still screeches even as Caceres rocks him on her chest, sometimes until dawn.”

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“The Salvadoran family’s story of struggle in U.S. immigration detention presaged what was to come: Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy that led to more than 2,300 (closer to 3,000) migrant children being separated from parents in recent weeks.”

“Caceres’ quest to find her child foreshadows the long road ahead for many immigrant families after Trump reversed the separation policy and directed agencies to begin reuniting families this week.”

“Last year, Caceres, her husband Jose Demar Fuentes, and their children Mateo and five-year-old Andree, fled El Salvador where gangs had demanded protection money, and crossed Mexico in one of the regular ‘caravans’ of migrants that travel together for safety.”

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“On Nov. 12, Fuentes sought asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border, with Mateo in his arms, citing the gang threats. Caceres was due to follow a few days later with Andree.”

“But Caceres heard that U.S. immigration officials had taken Mateo from Fuentes on Nov. 16, as Fuentes was being transferred to a San Diego detention centre. Still in Tijuana, she began a frantic search for her son.”

“When she finally got Mateo back in February, “he looked like he hadn’t been bathed in three months”, said Caceres in a telephone interview with Reuters this week from Los Angeles.”

“It was very hard to see the condition he was in. I don’t want to imagine that mountain of children, how they care for them,” she said, choking on tears.”

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“The potential consequences of such separations include impacts on brain development and mental health, as well as persistent behavioural and academic problems, especially for under-fives, child development experts say.”

“That first night, Mateo was inconsolable as Caceres held him tight, whispering he was “with your mama,” she said.”

“”Caceres had finally located Mateo at a facility in Texas. The phone number for the facility she provided to Reuters is registered to International Educational Services Inc (IES).”

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“A nonprofit, IES closed its centres in Texas in March after losing funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to local media reports. A spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission confirmed that the facilities were inactive.”

“That agency found various violations during its inspection of IES facilities, including improper administration of medication, according to the agency’s website.”

“In a statement to local media, IES did not say why it shuttered the facilities. ORR did not immediately respond to request for comment. There was no answer at IES’ listed phone number or from employees’ emails. Texas HHS did not provide a reason for the closure.”

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“Locating Mateo took Caceres a week of phone calls to similar institutions on numbers she was given after speaking to a hotline for immigrant parents separated from their children.”

“Caceres called some numbers 10 times to get an answer. One official said Mateo was not entered into the system at all.”

“For a time, it seemed her son did not exist in U.S. bureaucracy.”

“On the seventh day of calls, late in November, she got through to IES.”

“Yes, he’s here,” the person at the end of the line said. “Are you the mother?”

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“Shaking with relief, she asked for information on Mateo’s health, his mood, how he was being fed and how he was sleeping.”

“They would give her the information, they said, but first needed proof of parentage.”

“With help from a pro-bono lawyer, Caceres emailed the documents she had: Mateo’s birth certificate, a hospital form with the baby’s footprints and her Salvadoran identity card.”

“The director of the Texas facility demanded a DNA test. In the end parentage was established with the help of a representative from the Salvadoran consulate who certified the documents, Caceres said.”

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“It then took time to convince IES to let her talk to Mateo and then only by sending a five-minute video of herself to the facility. Over the phone, she listened to Mateo cry as he was shown the video, unable to locate the source of her voice.”

“He thought she was there to pick him up,” her attorney Erika Pinheiro said. “He became very distraught after the call.”

“Officials at the centre told Caceres they had no knowledge of her case nor how her son came to them. Immigration authorities just sent them the babies, they said, according to Caceres.”

“Caceres could not fly to fetch her son herself because of limitations on her movements, tracked by an ankle bracelet after she crossed the U.S. border with Andree and sought asylum. She was staying with relatives in Los Angeles.”

“At one point she was asked, she and her attorney said, to pay $2,000 (1,509.7 pounds) so an official could deliver Mateo from Texas. Pinheiro said the ORR specialist on the case ultimately agreed to waive the fee.”

Mateo Fuentes laughs under the watch of his mother in Los Angeles, Feb. 14, 2...


“Back home, Fuentes, 30, and Caceres, 29, ran a shop selling artisan shoes. Like many small business owners, they were forced to pay a weekly “war tax” to Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13, one of two brutal gangs with fiefdoms across the country.”

“When the tax doubled from one week to the next, to $100, they could no longer afford to pay, Caceres said. But missing payment, she said, meant death. The family fled.”

“For reasons that are unclear, U.S. immigration officials pulled Mateo from Fuentes’ clutch as he was being transferred to San Diego’s Otay Mesa detention centre, along with the children of three other fathers. He was not told where the baby was sent.”

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“A Customs and Border Protection official told Reuters this week the agency determined he and his minor son were citizens of El Salvador with no legal status to enter the US, and handed them to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).”

“At the time, an ICE spokeswoman released a statement saying Fuentes did not have documents to verify he was the father and the child was too young to answer officers’ questions.”

“Pinheiro and other advocates say Fuentes’ Salvadoran identity documents and Mateo’s birth certificate were evidence of their family connection.”

“Fuentes sought asylum alone with Mateo because the boy was sick after their journey from Central America, much of it undertaken on the open top of a freight train, and they wanted to get to the US to seek treatment, Caceres said.”

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Fuentes, trained as a journalist, still remains detained in Otay Mesa, denied parole and family visits, according to Caceres and Pinheiro.

“It’s difficult for me to take in that I am a risk of flight when I handed myself in and asked for asylum,” he wrote in an anguished letter to Otay Mesa authorities seen by Reuters.

“I came to find security for my family and what I obtained was separation from my son, who was one year and two months old.”

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On July 6, 2018, Peter Weber of the Week penned the following report, “Migrant mother says DHS returned her 14-month-old son after 85 days, filthy and covered with lice”


“On Thursday (7/5/18), Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters that HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement is still holding nearly 3,000 children separated from their parents, including about 100 younger than age 5, and is working very hard to comply with a federal court order to reunite those childrenwith their parents by July 26, or July 10 for the under-5 children. Previously, HHS said it had 2,047 separated children in custody, of 2,300 split from their parents by Customs and Border Patrol. It now appears HHS and the Department of Homeland Security don’t actually know the locations of all migrant parents and their separated children, as they claimed.”

“Lisa Desjardins summarized Azar’s statements on Thursday’s PBS NewsHour, then turned to the 1,000 pages of documentation released as part of the lawsuit from 17 states and the District of Columbia seeking to scrap President Trump’s blanket incarceration of asylum seekers. We “have some very gripping and, frankly, difficult-to-read personal testimonies,” Desjardins said, reading part of the story from a woman named Olivia Caceras, whose 14-month-old child was returned to her after 85 days.”

The child “continued to cry when we got home and would hold on to my leg and and would not let me go,” Caceras testified. “When I took off his clothes he was full of dirt and lice. It seemed like they had not bathed him the 85 days he was away from us.” NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff was aghast. “85 days without bathing?” she asked. “This is her accusation,” Desjardins said.”


  1. Dear Mz. Gronda,

    This story as well as many other similar ones is very difficult to read without a mixture of anger and sorrow. Our nation has become a bastion of hate and disrespect aimed at those less fortunate than our current residents. This comes after the installation of an unqualified individual into the position as leader of our nation. Will our democracy survive the onslaught against our founding fathers basic principals they wrote into the documents that formed our nation? Right now it is questionable that it will…

    Has anyone else considered the forced use of DNA testing on these asylum seekers allegedly to allow our government to determine the parents “ownership” of the child (children) in question, is not for that primary purpose at all? Might I suggest the reason for the DNA testing of the parents is intended for quick identification of the parents in the event they attempt to re-enter our country at a later date? If forced DNA registration were to be implemented upon our own citizens what do you suppose would the outcry from the right wing supporters be? Would they simply say ok or would they start to scream foul and threaten to use their God given 2nd Amendment rights to prevent it? How deep does the hole have to be before it becomes a cavern that we become entrapped in? Will we citizens sit back and watch as this happens to these immigrants, shrugging our shoulders and thinking it will never happen to us? Before you answer, think back to Germany prior to WWII, and ask yourself did those people act much as we are today…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Crustyolemothman,

      Why do you think we are out there protesting, calling our lawmakers, sending monies to help with bail? There are peoples who want greater security at our US borders but not like this.

      Peoples are fighting back. Lawsuits have been filed. The news reporters are all over this story.

      Peoples are shunning those like Alan Dershowitz and others for having been supportive of President Trump.

      But you are so right about that DNA testing. There is something that smells fishy here.

      Hugs, Gronda


  2. When you consider the lack of protocol to take a child away in the first place, why should a parent have to jump through the hoops you reported just to reclaim the child? One or two identification proofs should have been more than enough.

    This whole scenario is beyond sickening … and demonstrates the heartlessness of those in charge (starting at the top).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Nan,

      I don’t get this myself to where I am suspicious of this demand to verify parents/ children’s DNA. It’s not enough that these families have been put through hell.

      This has been a horror show brought to us by the administration of President Trump.

      Hugs, Gronda


  3. Gronda, let me ask the obvious question. If these immigrants were Caucasians, would there be such an iron fisted approach? Immigration is accretive to the economy where newcomers bring a higher prevalence of entrepreneurial elan and do jobs we citizens choose not to do. Trump supporters have been sold a problem that is not significant with a ham-handed solution. What could go wrong? Just about everything. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Keith,

      You already know the answer to your question. According to President Trump these refugees are from sh*thole countries. He sees them as rodents, as part of an infestation. He wants to cater to his anti-immigration faction of his base.

      There are business groups, the Chamber of Commerce and even the Koch brothers who will be putting out ADS to educate the public about the benefits of immigration.

      They helped create this monster in the White House and now they are stuck with him.

      Hugs, Gronda


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