After months working at a migrant youth shelter in Tucson, Arizona, Antar Davidson’s concern over how the children were being treated prompted him to quit and speak out about the behaviors he witnessed firsthand.
According to Davidson, a former employee at the government-contracted shelter Estrella del Norte, the number of children seperated from parents at the border, and the mistreatment they experienced in the shelter, increased following the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that went into effect in April.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the 32-year-old Brazilian-American youth care worker revealed that the facility he worked in was understaffed and unequipped to deal with children experiencing trauma.
In one particular case, three Brazilian migrant siblings who had just been separated from their parents were told their mother and father were “lost,” which they believed meant they were dead. As the children wept and consoled one another, Davidson was instructed to “tell them they can’t hug.”
Orders like this, which the man refers to as “not healthy,” is why he left his job and is now disclosing what is happening inside the controversial shelters.
During his time at Estrella del Norte, Davidson alleges that children were running away, screaming, throwing furniture and attempting suicide. Just last week, he notes, many were being monitored after being deemed risks of escaping, self-harm and suicide.
Davidson’s revelation comes after news broke last week that at least 2,700 children had been split from their parents at the border under the Trump administration. On Sunday, hundreds of people in Texas marched against the forced family breakups.
To learn what you can do to help these young migrants, support and donate to the organizations who are leading the work to unite these separated families.