"Wilder, I wish you well."

[Content Note: Nativism; child abuse.]

This piece by Eva Ruth Moravec and Ginger Thompson at ProPublica about children in immigration court is absolutely heartbreaking. There are tiny children expected to represent themselves, pregnant teenagers in pain, and kids who are all alone save for the attorneys who help represent them and the judges who decide their fates.
It was shortly before Thanksgiving in an immigration court in San Antonio, and the third defendant to come before Judge Anibal Martinez walked into the courtroom without an attorney, wearing a gray winter hat that was stitched with a pair of blue googly eyes and a floppy red yarn mohawk.

When the bailiff asked his name, he piped up proudly: Wilder Hilario Maldonado Cabrera.

"How old is Wilder?" the immigration judge asked.

An attorney, who was there with other clients, came forward and volunteered to stand in for Wilder. She turned to the boy and in Spanish asked his age.

"Seis años," he said, 6, his legs dangling from a chair at the defendant's table.

Wilder, a smiley, pudgy Salvadoran boy, missing his two front teeth, was the youngest defendant on the juvenile docket that day.

...Born in a remote mountain village at the northern edge of El Salvador, he barely knew what to make of the metal detector at the courthouse, much less why he was in court in the first place.

Before entering the courtroom, the bailiff had to gently nudge the boy through the machine, because he froze in fright at the blinking lights on its side. "No seas nervioso," she told him, don't be nervous.

The attorney helped Wilder put on his headphones, so he could hear the court translator, as if language was the only barrier to his ability to follow the whirlwind proceedings.

Then she asked the judge to set aside any decisions about the boy's asylum claim until Wilder's lawyer could arrange to be in court with him. The judge agreed.

"Wilder, I wish you well," he said, sending the boy off to uncertainty. "We'll see you soon."

Wilder, a huge Spider-Man fan, waved at the judge, then pretended he was shooting spiderwebs from his wrists. On his way out, he waved to the friendly bailiff and said, "Bye policía."
Wilder's father, with whom he traveled to the United States, is still being held at an immigration detention facility after he and Wilder requested asylum. They were separated, and Wilder was sent to temporary foster care.

Despite the fact that a federal judge ordered the Trump Regime to stop family separations, many families have not been reunited for various reasons, including the administration declaring children ineligible for reunification due to parents' criminal histories, often for infractions that would not subvert custody in any other situation. That is why Wilder has not been reunited with his father.
Authorities had determined soon after Maldonado entered the country that he did not qualify for asylum, but they refused to reunite him with his son while that decision was appealed because Maldonado, who lived in the United States more than a decade ago, had an old warrant for a DUI in Florida. It's a charge that would almost never result in a loss of parental custody in a non-immigration context, but immigration lawyers say they have seen immigration authorities use such minor, nonviolent criminal records to justify separating immigrant parents from their children at the border. Government officials say that while a federal court ordered them to stop separating children under zero tolerance, it exempted cases involving parents who posed security risks to their child.
And so Wilder goes back into the system, while his father languishes in detention, and his mother and siblings struggle to survive back in El Salvador.

And the judge wishes Wilder well, because that's all he can do.

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