With all that’s happening in America, it’s no wonder many of us have never heard the story of 2-year-old Fernanda Jacqueline Dávila. This Tegucigalpa, Honduras native is probably the youngest prisoner to ever appear before a judge alone in the US.
Fernanda is a little girl… a toddler with brown hair and eyes. For three months, she was held in custody at a US detention center for immigrant children. Problem is, she had been snatched from her grandmother at the border.
So, when it came time for the tiny 2-year-old to appear before an immigration judge, she was all alone.
How Did 2-Year-Old Fernanda Jacqueline Dávila End Up in Prison?
Back in Honduras, life wasn’t good for the girl’s family. So, reluctantly, her 21-year-old mother, Alison Dávila, allowed mother, Nubia, to take the child to America. And, they were off, headed north to the United States.
Five months earlier, my Mom asked me to let her take my daughter with her and she said she would arrange for me to join them two months later. … I didn’t want her to take my daughter away, but she begged me. She wanted to make it through. She said my daughter would have a better future.
As soon as they entered the US, the grandmother surrendered to Border Patrol agents. And, that’s where the horror story for the young toddler began.
They were both placed under arrest. The very next day, they were separated, as the toddler slept!
No one told the grandmother why they were being separated. And, she had no idea what would happen to the child next.
That was in late July.
Fernanda Remained in Custody After Grandmother’s Release
Eventually, the grandmother was released from United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody. She moved to Atlanta, Georgia.
But, Fernanda Jacqueline Dávila remained in custody. For some reason, she hadn’t been sent back to her mother in Tegucigalpa .
The 2-year-old remained in prison for kids.
Alison Dávila says she spoke with her child via prison video chats every Wednesday and Friday. A social worker would assist the child with the calls. The distraught mother said:
She cries a lot. She says she wants to be with her mama.
Alison’s greatest fear was one most mother’s simply don’t have to face. She worried that her 2-year-old daughter would be put up for adoption. Then, Fernanda would be here in America. And, Alison would never see her child again.
2-Year-Old Appears Before Immigration Judge… Alone!
In a New York Times report, the writer describes, in great detail, Fernanda’s court date. She was in New York in immigration court… with nothing but strangers.
Her feet dangled from her chair, and she began to cry. The judge, who didn’t speak Spanish, asked questions through an interpreter, but Fernanda remained silent.
So you have a 2-year-old toddler, standing in front of an immigration judge, in a strange country, without her mother or grandmother. What else is there to do but cry?
Are Children Victims in Trump’s Immigration Reform?
Trump’s Immigration Reform is supposed to help make things better, without causing harm to innocent children. The act of separating these kids from their parents in a new, foreign country is supposed to be a determent, according to the Trump administration.
However, when you look at the conditions people are running from, it’s only natural that the US is a place they want to run to. Many have said that they would rather deal with any consequences US immigration agents have in store for them, than to remain where life is condemned to poverty and violence.
This is evident in the fact that many get to the border and simply surrender… without a fight.
So, how does separating children from their parents help solve the problem? That question remains to be answered.
Toddler Fernanda Jacqueline Dávila Finally Gets Deported Home
Eventually, an immigration judge finally made the decision to deport Fernanda Jacqueline Dávila back to Honduras. Immigration authorities gave her mother an ETA of 120 days!
The thought of having to wait up to four more months to be reunited with her 2-year-old daughter was very stressful. But, Alison felt a little more at ease knowing Fernanda wouldn’t be put up for adoption in the US.
Fernanda left the US on American Airlines Flight 941. Passengers exited the plane in groups or as couples on Thursday, October 25. Her family waited anxiously for her in the arrival area of the airport.
She was met at the San Pedro Sula airport by her mother, aunts and grandparents who held a balloon, candy and a welcome poster. They wanted to celebrate her return home. But, it was just too overwhelming for the toddler.
For more than three months, she hadn’t seen her mother, although she had cried for her often. Reports say she didn’t even recognize her at first. She just gave her a blank stare.
Her mother’s response was:
Before Fernanda’s mother could even touch her daughter at the airport, immigration officers ushered the arriving children into a windowed room. It would be nearly 40 minutes more before they would emerge.
Is America Creating Prison Kids?
Seven other children were also only that flight. Most of them had also been separated from the families… also at America’s southwest border.
In 2018 alone, about 3,000 children went through the same type of separations thanks to Trump’s immigration reform policy. It focuses on keeping immigrants from Central American out of the United States.
Back in June, after much pressure, President Trump halted the practice of separating immigrant children from their parents.
Now, it’s over four months later. And many of these kids remain in immigration prisons, away from their families.
Children in US Immigration Prisons: Cruel Use of Power
The bottom line is…
Little 2-year-old Fernanda Jacqueline Davila should have never been separated from her grandmother. And, she NEVER should have been held in an immigration PRISON for children.
None of the children in our country’s immigration prisons should be detained and arraigned in immigration courts, especially without their parents there with them!
There has to be more civilized, humane methods of handling America’s immigration cases without subjecting children to prison life. Turning these innocent souls into prison kids is unnecessary emotional torture.
So, why does DHS do it? Well, many suggest the do it simply because they can. But, at the end of the day, they have turned a 2-year-old into one of our country’s famous prisoners.
And, that is “cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control.”