President Trump has signed an executive order to stop the separation of immigrant parents and children being held by immigration authorities. It’s still unclear, however, when and how families will be reunited, and the practice has drawn widespread condemnation from abroad and in the U.S.
Thousands marched in cities across the country Saturday to denounce the practice.
Journalists who recently toured some detention facilities in Texas were not allowed to photograph or interview immigrants, so last week The Times asked volunteers and attorneys visiting detained immigrant parents to convey written questions.
More than a dozen mothers at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, 30 miles north of Austin, responded.
Some women described their perilous journeys to the U.S. or their experiences in custody. Many said they were never told where their children were being held or their status. Some wrote messages to their children. Some examples:
‘I want you to know that I love you’
“My son, I write you these words with immense pain in my heart to have you separated from me. But I want you to know that I miss you so much.
“And that every day I ask God that very soon we will be together again. And that they will never again separate you from me because you are the most beautiful thing that God gave me, you, my son.
“And I want you to know that I love you with all my soul, and the biggest thing I ask God is that we will be together. God willing, my son.”
‘Sending you kisses’
“When we’re together again, I will spoil you like always. I will cook your meals and we will go on walks and I’ll lie next to you until you fall asleep. I love you, my prince. I hope to God and the Virgin Mary, my child, that we will soon be together and we’ll never be separated again. I love you, baby, sending you kisses.”
‘I’m going to take care of you’
“I want you to know that it hurts me so much that we are separated, but I’m asking God every day for us to be together again soon. I miss you so much, my love. I want to see you and hold you, but I am fighting for you and soon we will be together and we will never be separated again.
“I am going to take care of you and protect you. I love you so much, my dear. See you soon. I love you, my precious little one.”
‘This drawing is for you’
Marina to her son, Emerson:
“Mama loves you, son. I miss you very much and only count the days until I see you again. May God protect you, my love. This drawing is for you. Your mama, Marina, loves you.”
‘I am fighting for you’
“I miss you very much, my girl. I want you to know that soon we will be together and that I am fighting for you. Soon we will be together [after] waiting just a little while. I love you, daughter. I send you hugs. I love you, my girl.”
‘I don’t want you to be sad’
“Hello, hello, son. I want to say that I miss you very much and that I love you and that soon we will be together, that this will be over and that we never will be separated again. I hope to see you soon and that we are with your father…. I don’t want you to be sad. I love you, my son. Until then, I send you hugs and kisses.”
July 10, 3:35 p.m.: This article was updated with a letter and drawing from Marina to her son.
This article was originally published on July 2 at 3:05 a.m.