On Monday, we published a seven-minute audio clip of children inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility where they’ve been separated from their families. You can hear the children wail. Some of them are as young as four.
They scream “Mami” and “Papá” over and over again. At one point, you can hear the voice of a Border Patrol agent speaking over the crying. “Well, we have an orchestra here,” he jokes. “What’s missing is a conductor.”
The audio spread quickly. Minutes after we posted it, New York magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi played the tape at a White House briefing. Reporters tried to ask questions about the audio. The answer from Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen: “I think that they reflect the focus of those who post such pictures and narratives.”
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order aimed at ending the separation of families. But his order doesn’t revoke the his administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy. And it remains to be seen what that will mean in practice for migrant families caught unlawfully crossing into the U.S.
Then on Friday afternoon, Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., played the audio on the House floor. Less than a minute into the recording, Rep. Karen Handel, R-Ga., the presiding officer, told Lieu that he needed to stop, citing a rule that prohibits the use of an electronic device to play sounds in the chamber.
“The gentleman will suspend,” she said over and over again, over the audio of the crying children.
“Why are we hiding it from the American people,” Lieu asked over and over again.
— Read on go.propublica.org/webmail/125411/264158877/e2dfd8d4dd96a6e048bce578e7b6a32661b8ff35f64374ff29f54dadd05911cc