Al Jazeera Programme Fault Lines investigates barriers to asylum under Trump
● Fault Lines traveled to Honduras to interview two fathers deported from the U.S. after being separated from their children this summer.
● On the U.S. border with Mexico, Al Jazeera’s documentary crew witnessed two Guatemalan teenagers being turned away from the U.S. port of entry. They were allegedly told there was no space for them.
● Parents had to go through an asylum interview process while separated from their children.
● Detained parents allege they were separated a second time after refusing to agree to their children’s deportation.
(Washington D.C. – 11th September, 2018) – Fault Lines, Al Jazeera English’s Emmy and Peabody-award winning documentary programme, is releasing an investigative documentary “No Shelter: Family Separation at the Border” examining how the U.S., under Donald Trump, is closing its doors to asylum seekers escaping violence.
After the Trump administration's “zero tolerance” immigration policy was fully implemented in May this year, nearly 3,000 children were separated from their parents after arriving at the southern border of the U.S.
The Fault Lines team traveled to Honduras and tracked down two fathers who were deported after being separated from their children. The asylum seekers, who said they were pressured into signing documents in English that they did not understand, described the pain of being separated from their children. “It’s like a nightmare, and you don’t wake up,” said Elmer, whose 14-year-old daughter was held in a shelter in the U.S for nearly three months
The short film looks at other ways the Trump administration is making it harder for migrants to seek asylum, including stationing border agents in the middle of bridges connecting the U.S. and Mexico. In early August, on the bridge connecting Ciudad Juarez, Mexico with El Paso, Texas, the team witnessed two teenage siblings from Guatemala being turned away as they tried to claim asylum and told there was no space for them. Half an hour later, as border agents noticed the crew filming, they allowed the siblings in.
Fault Lines also spoke with Bety, a mother still recovering from the trauma of being separated from her 5-year-old daughter, Vanessa, for over a month. She had to go through the complicated process of claiming asylum while still separated. Her lawyer said that while Bety’s case should have met the threshold for asylum, she was rejected by an asylum officer and an immigration judge. Bety told our crew she met dozens of other parents who had also been rejected for asylum while separated from their children.
Fault Lines also investigated alleged coercive tactics by immigration officials. Parents being held in New Mexico spoke exclusively to Fault Lines, telling us that they were reunited with their children - only to be separated a few hours later by immigration officials. They said they were placed in detention again after they refused to sign a form that would have waived their children’s claim to asylum. “They were pressuring us,” a father said from detention.
As the Trump administration continues to pursue an immigration policy that makes it more difficult for some to claim asylum in the U.S., families impacted by “zero tolerance” are left to deal with the emotional trauma of their separation -- and a loss of hope that they will be able to escape the violence they fled in the first place.
Note to Editors
● The Fault Lines episode will premiere online on Tuesday, September 11th.
● The full show will be available through this link: https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/faultlines/
● Follow Fault Lines on Twitter @AJFaultLines