Excerpt from the Los Angeles Times:
In the living room of the one-bedroom Van Nuys apartment, the boy tried to explain, in the words of a 3-year old, what happened to his father.
“Papá cae en piso,” he said, turning briefly from a game on his mother’s phone.
Dad fell on the floor.
Andriy Ovalle Calderon recounted the moment his father was restrained by Customs and Border Protection officers four months ago as he tried to cross into Texas illegally.
The boy spent more than a month with a foster family in California before being released in April to his mother, who separately had turned herself in at a port of entry with her younger son. Claudia Calderon has been allowed to stay with her mother-in-law while she waits for an immigration judge to hear her asylum claim.
Her husband, Kristian Francisco Ovalle Hernandez, was deported to Guatemala.
At night, Andriy sometimes wakes up screaming in the bunk bed he shares with his mother and baby brother. When he started to wet the bed, Calderon put him back in diapers. Sometimes he throws his tiny body down on the floor, hands behind his back, acting out what happened to his father.
As federal agencies work on reuniting more than 2,000 families that remain apart, affected by the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, many children are struggling to cope with the aftermath of the separations.
A 1-year-old taken from his father in November still wakes up crying, quieting only when his mother reassures him that she is there. In the first week of living in a Jefferson Park apartment, he would grab his mother’s legs and start to cry if someone came to visit.
“Those are absolutely classic signs of acute trauma,” said Dr. Amy Cohen, a child psychiatrist. As a volunteer at an immigrant respite center in McAllen, Texas, Cohen identified and helped traumatized children and adults separated in detention.