Why was the woman not arrested for harassment, criminal threatening, etc?
Helen’s mother, Jeny, had migrated to Texas four years earlier, and Noehmi planned to seek legal refuge there.
…Noehmi said that the official told her, “Don’t make things too difficult,” and pulled Helen from her arms. “The girl will stay here,” he said, “and you’ll be deported.” Helen cried as he escorted her from the room and out of sight.
…The next day, authorities—likely from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (O.R.R.)—called to say that they were holding Helen at a shelter near Houston; according to Noehmi, they wouldn’t say exactly where.
…According to a long-standing legal precedent known as the Flores settlement, which established guidelines for keeping children in immigration detention, Helen had a right to a bond hearing before a judge; that hearing would have likely hastened her release from government custody and her return to her family. At the time of her apprehension, in fact, Helen checked a box on a line that read, “I do request an immigration judge,” asserting her legal right to have her custody reviewed. But, in early August, an unknown official handed Helen a legal document, a “Request for a Flores Bond Hearing,” which described a set of legal proceedings and rights that would have been difficult for Helen to comprehend. (“In a Flores bond hearing, an immigration judge reviews your case to determine whether you pose a danger to the community,” the document began.) On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.
It had been 10 weeks since Ramos had last held her 2-year-old, Alexa. Ten weeks since she was arrested crossing the border into Texas and U.S. immigration authorities seized her daughter and told her she would never see the girl again.
What followed — one foster family’s initially successful attempt to win full custody of Alexa — reveals what could happen to some of the infants, children and teens taken from their families at the border under a Trump administration policy earlier this year.
…An Associated Press investigation drawing on hundreds of court documents, immigration records and interviews in the U.S. and Central America identified holes in the system that allow state court judges to grant custody of migrant children to American families — without notifying their parents.
And today, with hundreds of those mothers and fathers deported thousands of miles away, the risk has grown exponentially.
…Three days after their separation, court records show, the U.S. government labeled Alexa an “unaccompanied minor,” which meant she entered the bureaucracy for migrant youth, typically teens, who arrive in the U.S. alone. The toddler was issued a notice to appear on “a date to be set, at a time to be set, to show why you should not be removed from the United States.”
…It took 28 minutes for a judge in a rural courthouse near Lake Michigan to grant Alexa’s foster parents, Sherri and Kory Barr, temporary guardianship. Alexa’s mother and the little girl’s immigration attorney were not even notified about the proceedings.
…In Missouri, an American couple managed to permanently adopt a baby whose Guatemalan mother had been picked up in an immigration raid. That seven-year legal battle terminating the mother’s parental rights ended in 2014. In Nebraska, another Guatemalan mother prevailed and got her kids back, but it took five years and over $1 million in donated legal work.