This toddler’s traumatized cries are utterly heartbreaking
After being separated at the border for two months, an 18-month-old little girl and her mother reunited at San Francisco International Airport earlier this week. The sound of the baby’s traumatized, primal crying when she finally sees her mother is nothing short of haunting.
The mother, Sindy Ortiz Flores, is seen anxiously awaiting the arrival of her little girl at a terminal in the airport. After spotting her 18-month-old daughter, Grethshell Juliet, in the crowd of people, she grows emotional and utters a cry of relief.
While that alone is a heart-wrenching scene to bear witness to, the video only grows more devastating as the tiny little girl lays eyes on her mother.
*This* is the face of Trump's war on immigrants. A 17-month-old baby. Juliet. Returned last night to her mom. Asylum seekers from Honduras. Separated & detained by ICE for 2 months. This is the scene from SFO. Listen to her cries. Bear witness. This is trauma. This is too much. pic.twitter.com/sRvnn464Df
— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) January 30, 2019
The woman carrying little Grethshell from the plane hands the baby to her mother, and the little girl’s wail is a sound that will not soon be forgotten. Imagine the pain she and her mother must have gone through while separated; are still going through.
Scott Hechinger, a Public Defender. Senior Staff Attorney & Dir. of Policy at Brooklyn Defender Services, shared the now viral video on Twitter. And it’s a gut-punch for anyone with a sense of humanity to watch. “Listen to her cries,” he writes. “Bear witness. This is trauma. This is too much.”
Plenty of people who witnessed the heartbreaking video spoke up about it on social media.
I don’t understand how anyone, in any position of power, thinks removing a child, this small from her mother is anything other than an act of unnecessary brutality. https://t.co/fdTwg33QvB
— Emma Kennedy (@EmmaKennedy) January 31, 2019
These are the people @realDonaldTrump is telling us to fear. To keep out. To wall off.
This government has lost its humanity. We have to fight to get it back. https://t.co/vVGlMWF7w9
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 31, 2019
The child returned after forced separation will not be the same child that was taken. They will be forever changed by trauma, punished by this sadistic "pro-life" administration merely for being born in the wrong place. #Resist https://t.co/cal8O3A8gj
— Clayton B. Shaw 🌊🏳️🌈 (@clayton_b_shaw) February 1, 2019
This is the worst of his crimes. This is pure evil. Nothing justifies doing this to a child or a mother. Now multiply it by thousands. https://t.co/P3m0hd6wQo
— Randi Mayem Singer (@rmayemsinger) January 31, 2019
Can't even bear to watch https://t.co/20hqnNTKKj
— rabia O'chaudry (@rabiasquared) January 30, 2019
my mom was the one who escorted the child, this is what she does. sometimes she leaves for days at a time, making sure these children make it to their families safely. https://t.co/qAxYRjPafH
— eve-on (@yv0nnelynn) February 1, 2019
According to KQED News, U.S. Border Patrol agents took Grethshell from her father, Kevin Ventura Corrales, on December 28. He was arrested near Calexico, California, for illegally re-entering the United States. After her father was taken into custody, Grethshell was turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement and placed in a shelter in Texas.
Ortiz and her husband, Ventura, along with Grethshell and her two older siblings, first fled their home country of Honduras back in October. The family became separated while in Mexico. Ortiz and her two older children made it to San Francisco to stay with relatives before Ventura’s arrest. She’s in the process of applying for asylum.
She says the separation has been extremely hard. “I felt desperate and helpless, not knowing what do do,” Ortiz tells KQED. “I’ve been so nervous, wondering whether they were going to give her back to me or not.”
It’s no wonder she felt desperate and inconsolable. The Trump administration is directly responsible for the separation of hundreds of families, and the deaths of two immigrant children who died as a result of the negligence they endured in the ill-equipped, dangerous shelters they were forced to reside in.
When asked if she has anything further to say to the Trump administration about their policies, Ortiz told KQED just one thing: “Stop hurting families.”