It’s still happening: At the U.S. border, children are being taken away from their parents or guardians.

Even though the Trump administration is out, family separation continues under Biden. Has anything even changed? Since the start of the new administration until August 2022, there have been at least 372 reported cases of children being taken away from their families, like 10-year-old Felipe, who fled Colombia with his parents, Victoria and Anton. The Biden administration is separating families in the same cruel way as Trump officials did during the zero-tolerance policy, while some “architects of family separation” have remained in high-level positions of power in Texas and other states.

While the Biden administration has created a task force focused on reuniting families and a pilot program at a Texas border patrol station to bring adult relatives and children together more quickly, the overall approach toward U.S. immigration policy hasn’t changed. In this piece, John Washington and Anna-Catherine detail the traumatic and unnecessary separation of Felipe from his family — and how it has completely crushed the spirit of a once bright and bubbly boy.

One or two days later, on or about May 29—the exact date is unclear—Victoria and Felipe were taken to another room from which they could see, but not speak to, Anton. After some paperwork and an interview, an officer told Victoria that they were taking Felipe to have a snack. 

“They opened the door, took him away, and then closed the door,” Victoria said. She had heard about family separations, but didn’t think the U.S. government was still taking kids away from their parents. 

Victoria sensed something was amiss and began asking officials where her son was. “I don’t know,” immigration officials told her repeatedly. Almost six months later, she hasn’t seen him.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.