Mothers wait in agony in immigration detention to see children again

Mothers wait in agony in immigration detention to see children again

She never expected that her son would be taken away — and that information about him would be so tough to get.

“They haven’t told us anything,” she said.

NBC News spoke by phone with four mothers in detention, including Vásquez, who had similar stories. Provided phone cards by their attorney, they described in their calls a roughly two-week trek through Central America and Mexico that ended when U.S. immigration agents picked them up after they crossed the border illegally.

The mothers all said they were applying for asylum, but were devastated to learn that their children would be taken from them.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday ending the forced separations of children from parents so that the parents could be prosecuted for illegal entry. The government had been separating families for months, splitting more than 2,300 children from parents or guardians. Some have been sent across the country to shelters and foster care, far from where their parents or guardians have been detained.

Teodora Martínez Salvador, 32, said she was “overjoyed” to hear about Trump’s executive order — but that she now wanted to be reunited quickly with her 15-year-old son.

“I need to hear his voice,” she said. ”There are many desperate mothers here.”

Patricia Yamileth Aragón, 41, of Honduras, said she hasn’t been able to speak with her daughter since June 14.

“It’s very cruel,” she said. “The hardest part is not being with our children.”

The Department of Homeland Security has said that 500 children have been reunited with parents since May. The agency told The Associated Press it wants to create a centralized process at the Port Isabel Detention Center to reunite all parents with children. The process in place now is daunting.

Parents are given a number to call but access to phones while in custody has been difficult. They must provide identifying information that matches with information documented by border officials who relay it to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

ORR can verify the child is in their custody but is prohibited from revealing the exact facility where the child is. That information is given to a caseworker who then must contact the parents or their attorney. John Sandweg, a former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told MSNBC that separations sometimes are permanent because the parents are deported before finding their children.

Andrea Beatriz Vives Ruiz, 26, is from El Salvador. She is one of the more fortunate ones. She found her 9-year-old daughter in a shelter in Michigan after contacting other relatives.

She had this message for Trump: “Please give me the opportunity to stay here, to be here.”

“I’m too scared to return to my country,” she said. “I just want to be together with my daughter again.”

18 mayoral candidates killed ahead of Mexico's July elections, 2 in less than 24 hours

18 mayoral candidates killed ahead of Mexico's July elections, 2 in less than 24 hours

MEXICO CITY — Two mayoral candidates in two different Mexican towns have been killed in less than 24 hours, marking a total of at least 18 candidates killed so far in campaigns leading up to the July 1 elections.

An independent mayoral candidate was gunned down in the conflict-ridden rural town of Aguililla in the western state of Michoacan on Wednesday. Michoacan Gov. Silvano Aureoles vowed to catch those responsible for killing candidate Omar Gomez Lucatero.

Aguililla is an extensive but sparsely populated mountain township where drug gangs and vigilantes have been active.

And early Thursday, the mayoral candidate for the leftist Democratic Revolution Party was killed in Ocampo, also in Michoacan.

Mexican soldiers guard the funeral of Ocampo municipality Mayor and candidate for the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Fernando Angeles, in Ocampo, Michoacan State, Mexico, on June 21, 2018.Raul Tinoco / AFP – Getty Images

His party said issued a statement saying that Fernando Angeles Juarez was assassinated, and called on the government to provide protection for people running in the July 1 elections.

Ocampo is a rural township about 95 miles (150 kilometers) west of Mexico City best known for the Monarch butterfly wintering grounds that occupy part of the mountainous municipality. It also been plagued by illegal logging and gangs.

Almost all of the 18 candidates killed across the country so far have been running for local posts in the July 1 elections, which will also decide the presidency, governorships and Congress. Other politicians who were considering a run have been killed before they could even register as candidates. The killings have particularly hit states like Michoacan, Guerrero and Oaxaca.

18 mayoral candidates killed ahead of Mexico's July elections, 2 in less than 24 hours

18 mayoral candidates killed ahead of Mexico's July elections, 2 in less than 24 hours

MEXICO CITY — Two mayoral candidates in two different Mexican towns have been killed in less than 24 hours, marking a total of at least 18 candidates killed so far in campaigns leading up to the July 1 elections.

An independent mayoral candidate was gunned down in the conflict-ridden rural town of Aguililla in the western state of Michoacan on Wednesday. Michoacan Gov. Silvano Aureoles vowed to catch those responsible for killing candidate Omar Gomez Lucatero.

Aguililla is an extensive but sparsely populated mountain township where drug gangs and vigilantes have been active.

And early Thursday, the mayoral candidate for the leftist Democratic Revolution Party was killed in Ocampo, also in Michoacan.

Mexican soldiers guard the funeral of Ocampo municipality Mayor and candidate for the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Fernando Angeles, in Ocampo, Michoacan State, Mexico, on June 21, 2018.Raul Tinoco / AFP – Getty Images

His party said issued a statement saying that Fernando Angeles Juarez was assassinated, and called on the government to provide protection for people running in the July 1 elections.

Ocampo is a rural township about 95 miles (150 kilometers) west of Mexico City best known for the Monarch butterfly wintering grounds that occupy part of the mountainous municipality. It also been plagued by illegal logging and gangs.

Almost all of the 18 candidates killed across the country so far have been running for local posts in the July 1 elections, which will also decide the presidency, governorships and Congress. Other politicians who were considering a run have been killed before they could even register as candidates. The killings have particularly hit states like Michoacan, Guerrero and Oaxaca.

World Cup 2018: Footballer's hair 'too wild' for Iranian TV

World Cup 2018: Footballer's hair 'too wild' for Iranian TV

We have all had bad hair days, times when grooming didn’t quite work out, but it’s rare we expect our carefully-maintained, glossy locks to land us in trouble.

When former Barcelona football star Carles Puyol accepted a spot to provide World Cup commentary on Iranian television, he probably did not think his trademark long curly hair would be cause for concern.

The footballer was billed to feature in a Channel 3 special programme for the Iran-Spain match on Wednesday, alongside host Adel Ferdosipour.

But after travelling to Iran and to the IRTV 3 Tehran studio, Mr Puyol was denied entry.

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A frustrated Mr Ferdosipour, left to host the programme without his Spanish counterpart, told viewers before the match: “You must be aware that Carles Puyol was scheduled to be with us tonight. However, he is in his hotel right now. I did everything I could but it didn’t happen. I apologise,” ISNA news agency reported.

Initial reporting of the footballer’s absence focussed on speculation the star’s appearance fee was set too high – but on Thursday a different story emerged.

Mr Puyol was told by the state broadcaster IRIB he could not appear in the programme “because of his looks (long hair),” according to news website Entekhab, who quoted the footballer.

Iran has no official hairstyle policy but state TV is strictly against broadcasting anything considered unconventional or “un-Islamic” by the clergy and the conservative establishment.

The Iranian Football Federation’s code of conduct, the Charter of Ethics and Behaviour, says players must not sport hairstyles which help “spread foreign culture,” and footballers are occasionally warned for hairstyles deemed inappropriate by the authorities.

The bizarre news prompted many on social media to criticise the broadcaster.

“You have disgraced us around the world, IRTV 3,” tweeted reformist journalist Saba Azarpeyk.

@Aaaamiraz asked the question on many people’s minds: “Had you not seen Puyol before you spent a ton of money and invited him, only to ban him from appearing on TV?”

Like others taking the opportunity to mock Iran’s policies in general, @Aaaamirza also pondered, “Didn’t the prophet of Islam [Muhammad] have long hair?”

“Mr Puyol, this is Islamic Iran! We won’t let you put Islam in danger with your wild hair!” another Twitter user wrote, sarcastically.

One posted a photo of a female model with long, curly hair along with the caption: “This is how the executives of the state TV see Puyol.”

And @Parvazi_ha mocked up a picture of Mr Puyol wearing the chador, a full-length garment worn by religious women: “The first condition to allow Puyol to appear on state TV is to have him don a chador and have him say ‘thank God I wear a chador’.”

This is not the first time long hair has caused controversy on TV in Iran. Two years ago, Peyman Hosseini, the national beach football team’s goalkeeper, was not allowed to appear on TV because of his long hair. When asked to wear his hair up, he refused.

The decision to cancel Puyol’s appearance comes just weeks after IRTV3’s veteran director Ali Asghar Pourmohammadi was replaced with one closer to Iran’s ultra-religious hardliners.

Guatemalan mother reunited with 7-year-old son after suing feds

Guatemalan mother reunited with 7-year-old son after suing feds

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A 7-year-old boy and his migrant mother who had been separated last month were brought together in a tearful reunion early Friday after she sued in federal court and the Department of Justice agreed to release the child.

The mother, Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia, and her son, Darwin, were reunited around 2:30 a.m. Friday at Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Maryland. She cried and wrapped the boy in a blanket, hugging him close and saying “I love you so much” in Spanish.

Mejia-Mejia sued the federal government to find out where Darwin was being held after they were separated at the border after a long journey from Guatemala, according to the lawsuit.

Darwin Micheal Mejia and his mother Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia are escorted after their reunion at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, on June 22, 2018, in Linthicum, Maryland. Patrick Semansky / AP

The two were set to travel to Texas, where they will live while their asylum claim is being decided, according to The Associated Press.

Mejia-Mejia and her son crossed the border on May 19 where she filed for political asylum near San Luis, Arizona, and the two were detained by Border Patrol agents. Two days later, her son was taken from her, the lawsuit said.

She was transferred to the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona where she was told her son was at a facility run by HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement in Phoenix, the lawsuit says.

Mejia-Mejia was released from custody on June 15 after posting bond, her legal filing said, but as of four days later, she still did not have her son back.

Bloodshed on the campaign trail taints Turkey's elections

Bloodshed on the campaign trail taints Turkey's elections

The Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center warned a fraudulent victory could lead to “widespread opposition protests [which] would be met with sustained violence from either police or organized groups of AKP supporters.”

American citizens attending a recent U.S. government function in Istanbul were warned of possible street-level violence following this weekend’s elections, but officials would not provide an on-the-record comment to NBC News.

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has also warned that the elections may result in demonstrations, and urged its citizens to stay away from large gatherings.

An Organization for Security and Cooperation report highlighted that the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) canceled a rally scheduled for the capital of Ankara on June 9 after police said they could not guarantee security as a result of an AKP event that was to be held nearby.

Eissenstat said Erdogan has politicized the police and military over the past 15 years. The AKP did not respond to a request for comment.

Mert Eryigit, 15, a high school student, says he was beaten by police after attending a pre-election rally demanding education reforms in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul, considered an opposition stronghold.

Eryigit says he believes his blood-stained vest should be seen as a warning to opponents of Erdogan.

“They want to show what would happen if Erdogan didn’t win … what would happen if people went on the streets after the election,” he said.

Erdogan called snap presidential and parliamentary elections a year and a half ahead of schedule. They will usher in a new executive presidential system that increases the powers of the president.

Supporters of imprisoned Selahattin Demirtas, the HDP’s presidential candidate, in Istanbul on Sunday.Sedat Suna / EPA

The five candidates running against Erdogan include Selahattin Demirtas, a former human-rights lawyer who is behind bars fighting terrorism-related charges. Demirtas is the former co-chairman of the HDP and one of the country’s best-known politicians.

He faces a 142-year sentence if convicted. Demirtas, who denies the accusations, was allowed to run in the presidential race because he has yet to be convicted. It wasn’t clear, however, if or how he would be able to take up office in the unlikely event that he is elected.

Muharrem Ince, a 54-year-old former physics teacher, is seen as the top contender to Erdogan in the race to be president. However, his CHP has struggled to win support beyond its core base of secular-minded voters. In the last parliamentary election in November 2015, it took 25.3 percent of the vote.

Enes Bayrakli, director of European studies with the pro-government SETA think tank, said that violence during the campaign has been limited.