This Wednesday, Estela Juarez, whose mother was deported two years ago under the Trump regime, was featured as part of the Democratic National Convention’s programming. In her message, the 11-year-old spoke directly to Trump and asked that he stand against the immigration policies which deported her mother to Mexico after residing in the United States for the last 20 years.
In her address—shot by Cristina Constantini, director of Walter Mercado documentary Mucho Mucho Amor—Juarez shares that her mother, Alejandra Juarez, is her best friend and that her father, Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez, a naturalized U.S. citizen, served in the Marine Corps.
Juarez also called out current policies that have led to mass family separations at the border, which in turn leads to parental deportations and the practice of children detention facilities along the southern border.
“Every day that passes, you deport more moms and dads, and take them away from kids like me,” Juarez said. “We are American families. We need a president who will bring people together, not tear them apart.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the practice of family separation predates the Trump administration’s “Zero Tolerance” immigration policy, which began officially in 2018. A pilot program to test the practices had been operating since 2017 in the El Paso, Texas area.
In 2018, 2,342 children were reportedly separated from their families from May 5 to June 29 alone. However, an additional 1,768 were separated between October 2016 and February 2018, months before “Zero Tolerance” went into effect, according to NBC News.
This January, the Los Angeles Times reported an official count of 4,368 children separated from their families at the border under that policy. Attorneys claim faults in tracking systems used by the government have erroneous counts, meaning this number is likely higher.