When discussing the policy of separating parents from their children at the United States border, most attention has focused on the traumatic effect the move could have on the children. But one recent case shows how parents can become severely distraught, and it isn’t clear that the U.S. government has a plan to deal with these types of cases before they escalate.
The Washington Post reports that a Honduran man took his own life last month after he was separated from his wife and child. Border Patrol agents saw how the man, Marco Antonio Muñoz, had an intense reaction to being separated from his family at the border after they said they wanted to apply for asylum. When agents told the family they would be separated, Muñoz “lost it,” according to an agent. “They had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands.”
Muñoz, 39, became so agitated that he was labeled “pre-assault.” One agent said the Honduran man “had the look of a guy at a bar who wanted to fight someone.” Muñoz was then placed in a padded isolation cell at a jail 40 miles away. Twelve hours after he was booked, a guard found Muñoz dead with “a small pool of blood by his nose.” The guard also found “a piece of clothing twisted around his neck which was tied to the drainage location in the center of the cell,” according to the incident report.
Muñoz’s death took place shortly after the White House launched its crackdown at the border that included the move to regularly separate parents from their children at the border. Almost 1,800 immigrant families were separated at the border from October 2016 through February 2018, according to a “senior government official” who talked to Reuters. Although the official didn’t give up-to-date statistics, he “acknowledged the number of separations had risen sharply in recent weeks, largely because of new administration policies.”