A Honduran woman claims that her child was taken from her arms by federal immigration officials while she was breastfeeding at a detention center in Texas, according to civil rights’ attorneys.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, said he saw dozens of children sleeping in fenced cells at a warehouse in a different part of Texas last week, some of whom were as young as 4 or 5.

Citing three anonymous sources, NBC News reported on Thursday that the Trump administration has selected a location in Tornillo, Texas, for building tents to house hundreds of immigrant children.

These are some of the stories that have come out in recent weeks about the administration’s new “zero-tolerance” policy that is separating families caught attempting to enter the United States illegally.

Top officials in the administration, including U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have described the policy as a deterrent.

A recently formed group called Sonora Action Network is trying to bring awareness about what’s happening through a rally from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Courthouse Square in downtown Sonora.

“Whether you’re from El Paso, Texas, or Eugene, Oregon, the injustice of what’s being carried out warrants attention nationwide,” said Sonora resident and activist Elizabeth Harper, one of the group’s founders. “Even though it’s taking place far away, it still does affect this community directly.”

The group stated in a news release that it is staging the demonstration to “demand action that will end this disgrace to our country.”

Harper said she became aware of the issue on Twitter when she saw the trending hashtag #WhereAreTheChildren, in reference to the 1,500 immigrant children that the U.S. government reportedly lost track of last year.

“I understand there are a lot of people supporting stiff immigration laws because they want their families to be safer, that’s perfectly fine, but you have to say that it’s not right when you’re looking at traumatizing kids,” she said. “If this is what it takes to protect our safety and identity, maybe that’s too high of a cost?”

Harper has organized several events at Courthouse Square in the past year raising awareness on issues including gun violence, net neutrality, and the recent federal tax cuts.

She said the goal is to energize millennial voters to participate in the political process, as the generation is quickly becoming a larger voting bloc than the long-dominant baby boomers.

Karen Wood, of Sonora, said she will attend the rally and is working with an agency in Sacramento to establish a foster care program in the county for refugees and immigrant children who are classified as unaccompanied minors.

Wood said she’s already received interest from eight families in the county, though there aren’t any firm commitments as of yet.

“There are more than 10,000 children being housed by the federal government,” Wood said. “The more foster homes we can open up, those children can be with families rather than in warehouses and military bases.”

As an adoption social worker for the past 20 years, Wood said she’s seen the effects of personal trauma on a young child and believes that children being separated from families under Trump administration’s border policy is a step too far.

“By separating children from their parents, you are creating long-term problems for them,” Wood said. “Personally, I don’t think that just because you’re born inside some man-drawn lines that you are less entitled to safety.”

Contact Alex Maclean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.



20549792