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  • Google(NEW YORK) -- The room being used at one of the so-called "tender age" facilities designated to house immigrant children looked "home-y" but something seemed wrong.Colleen Kraft, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told ABC News that a concerned pediatrician working near the border called her to come and visit a facility housing children under 12 years old in Combes, Texas.She was able to visit the facility, run by the company Southwest Key Programs, in April, and she said that it was unsettling because the children were "so abnormally quiet."In one room reserved for toddlers, there were beds, cribs, toys, books and a play mat, Kraft said."It was actually kind of a home-y setting," she said.“What was really striking about the place, it was a room full of toddlers [and if you’ve ever been in a room full of toddlers you’d know] they're active, they’re loud and they’re playing and they’re rambunctious. This room, all of the children except for one were very quiet and were playing quietly... except for one little girl who was crying and sobbing and wailing and just inconsolable.”The girl looked like she was under 2 years old, Kraft said.“The worker was trying to give her toys and trying to give her books but she couldn’t pick her up or hold her,” Kraft added.“We were told that the policy was that they couldn’t actually hold or pick up the kids,” she said.Asked if she would have held the kids if that were allowed, she said she absolutely would have done so.“It’s a logical comforting thing to do we just do that as human beings,” she explained.“Here you have a bunch of quiet little toddlers and one inconsolable crying toddler who couldn’t be helped... we knew that none of us could help these kids because they didn’t have what they needed which was their mother,” she said.“They were traumatized.”Southwest Key Programs did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.In response to a different story, where a former employee said that he was told to tell boys in the care of Southwest Key Programs that they could not hug each other, the company released a statement saying, "hugging is absolutely allowed."Kraft told ABC News she also went into the room for preschoolers, between ages 4 to 6, and said that the kids were playing with toys and looking at some books.The pediatricians that flagged the centers to Kraft said: “They knew what kind of stress would do to these poor little developing brains.”Kraft explained that people have stress responses, “and we have increases in our cortisol, in our fight or flight hormones and they're there for a reason...""For a developing child, that stress when buffered by a loving parent helps them to become resilient ... these hormones come into play when a child falls down and hurts themselves," Kraft said. "But these same hormones when they are prolonged, when there’s prolonged exposure and there’s no parent to buffer these hormones, they cause disruption in the neuro synapses. And they cause disruption to the developing brain architecture."In summary, Kraft says that sort environment without the emotional support of a parent can likely cause brain damage for a child.“The pathways that develop, that lay the foundation for speech for social-emotional development, for gross and fine motor movements are happening during this young time when these toddlers are still developing," Kraft explained, "and this prolonged stress or what we call exposure to toxic stress, it disrupts the developing brain.”
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  • John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Their names are a mystery and in some cases, their faces are too.But the stories of the children caught in the crosshairs of the "zero tolerance" policy at the border are resonating with people across the country.Here are some of the stories of children whose experiences have captured the nation's attention.The girl pictured crying for her motherOne of the most iconic images of the border crisis featured a 2-year-old girl from Honduras.John Moore, a special correspondent and senior staff photographer for Getty Images, took the photo after spotting the girl in her mother's arms while he was participating in a ride-along with Customs and Border Protection agents in Texas.He saw a group of roughly 20 mothers and children late on June 12, "gathered on a dirt road" in a part of the Rio Grande Valley and, upon approaching the group, he saw the girl in her mother's arms.Moore said that he saw that the mother was breastfeeding her daughter "to keep her calm" and that, later, one of the agents asked the mother to put her daughter down."Once the mother put her on the ground she started screaming immediately," Moore said.The mother and daughter were taken away from the scene together, and because their names are unknown, it remains unclear if they were separated, though the policy mandates that if the mother faced charges they would be separated.Read more about Moore's experience here.The boy put in foster care with American parentsWhen a 9-year-old Guatemalan boy arrived at a Michigan foster care home, he was so afraid he couldn't eat.Over time, the boy, whose name has not been released, confided to his foster parents that he and his father had escaped violence and poverty in their homeland only to be greeted with more hardship when they arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border, where the boy watched his dad being taken from him in handcuffs."When he came to us, he was extraordinarily fearful,"said Jen, the new foster mother of the boy, who asked ABC News not to use her last name to protect the family's privacy. "He came in all-black clothes, we learned, because he traveled at night with his dad and they didn't want to be seen."The child handed them a piece of paper from a packet his mother had sewn into his pants before he and his father left home. The paper contained phone numbers of people his family knew in the United States, as well his mother's phone number in Guatemala.While a Michigan caseworker was collecting the father and son's intake information, she called the mom's phone and she answered."He was overcome," said Jen. "He couldn't talk. He was crying so hard he was almost to the point of being sick."Over the past eight months, the boy, now 10, opened up - telling caseworkers the story of his and his father's treacherous journey to what they thought would be the land of promise.Read more about the boy's journey here.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- One thing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and immigration activists can agree on is that there is a huge backlog of immigration court cases at the southern border.And they’ve been increasing since 2016, according to Syracuse University's TRAC Immigration database, which monitors U.S. federal immigration enforcement.As of now, there are 714,067 pending immigration cases, according to the database.By comparison, there were just over 400,000 in 2014, just over 450,000 in 2015 and more than 515,000 in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available.The courts in New York, Los Angles, San Francisco and Houston are experiencing the biggest backlogs, data show.In response, the U.S. Justice Department sent 35 more prosecutors to the Southwestern border last month. The department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which adjudicates immigration cases, also added 18 immigration judges to hear cases in person and via video conference.The assistant U.S. attorneys are allocated along the southern border states of Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico.In a speech earlier this month at the EOIR, Sessions talked about a 50 percent increase in the number of U.S. immigration judges hearing cases in the coming year.Because the Department of Justice now refers all immigration cases for prosecution, there could be a bigger increase of backlogged cases.At an event last month, EOIR Director James McHenry said his office is always looking for ways to expiate the process but ensure due process.There are more than 320 immigration judges around the country but Sessions has signaled that he wants to hire more to address the problem.To that end, Congress has given the DOJ room to hire up 150 new judges, McHenry said.But President Trump expressed a different view in his reaction to a proposal by Senate Republicans, saying that adding judges on the southwest border would be "crazy."
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  • Orlando Police Department(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The wife of an Orlando, Florida, police officer shot and critically wounded allegedly by a paroled felon who killed himself and four child hostages, broke down in tears Wednesday as she asked people to pray for his survival, saying, "My boys need their daddy and I need my husband."Meghan Valencia -- the wife of Officer Kevin Valencia and the mother of his two sons, one 5 years old and the other 8 months old -- left his bedside at Orlando Regional Medical Center briefly to tell the world "my husband is a true, true hero."Officer Valencia was shot in the head about 11:45 p.m. Sunday as he and his squad approached an Orlando apartment where Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr. was allegedly holding four children, including two of his own, hostage after his girlfriend, the mother of all four children, reported he had battered her, police said.During a standoff that stretched into Monday night, Lindsey shot all four children to death with a .380-caliber pistol he had stolen from his father, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said Wednesday.Walter Benenati, an attorney for the children's mother, Ciara Lopez, identified the victims on Wednesday as Irayan Pluth, 12; Lillia Pluth, 10; Aidan Lindsey, 6; and 22-month-old Dove Lindsey."The mother is just in complete shock," Benenati told ABC News. "Right now she is angry and that will turn to grief that nobody can even fathom."He said he spoke to the mother Wednesday and quoted her saying, "I am heartbroken and feel completely alone."Officer Talmon Hall was with Valencia when he was shot and said Valencia's "primary concern was for the well-being of those four children.""He wanted to be the first to bring the children out of the house and he wanted to be the first to apprehend the bad guy," said Hall, sitting next to Meghan Valencia during the news conference.Dr. Chad Smith, director of the intensive care unit at the Orlando Regional Medical Center, said Valencia is in critical condition."He's in a coma. He does show some signs of responsiveness and he will have a long road ahead for recovery," Smith said.Meghan Valencia said if anyone can survive, it is her husband."He is fighting every second. And I need him to continue to keep fighting because ...," she said breaking into sobs."This man was everything to me. I've been telling stories to the squad about how he is my first love, literally. Kevin and I were each other's first boyfriend and girlfriend when we were 12," she said. "So, you can imagine that this person is literally everything to me. He blessed me with two amazing little boys and he was ... he is the most amazing father ever."She said her nightmare began early Sunday morning when her husband's colleagues knocked on her door and woke her up and "told me that my husband had been shot trying to save some kids.""I'm sorry for those families," she said of the loved ones of the murdered children. "I'm a mom and I cannot even imagine what they're going through. It is more than what anybody can bear."I know every officer wanted to get those children out. And believe me, when I say that each and every single one of them feels the weight of the world because they couldn't."Surrounded by her husband's colleagues and her family members, Meghan Valencia said her husband, who had been a member of the Orlando Police Department for two years, was always putting the lives of others over his own well-being.She said once when her husband saw a car crash into a canal, he jumped into the water and saved people who were drowning."He didn't care about his well being, he just had to get them out," she said. "That was my husband. He did everything he possibly could to protect everybody. He was there for everyone."She said her husband has been her biggest booster, especially at times when she's felt inadequate as a mother."When I would cry because I thought I was the worst mother in the world, he would tell me that I was the best and that every child would be lucky to have a m
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  • ABC News(DENVER) -- The back-flipping FBI agent who accidentally shot a Colorado nightclub patron has been ordered to stay away from the man after being charged with second-degree assault.Chase Bishop, 29, Wednesday made his first appearance in a Denver courtroom, where a judge issued a standard protection order stating that he must have zero contact and stay at least 100 yards away from Tom Reddington, 24, who was shot in the leg during the incident.Bishop was dancing at a Denver nightclub June 2 when his service weapon fell out of his waistband holster as he attempted to do a back handspring, authorities said. When the off-duty agent went to pick up the gun, it went off, hitting Reddington in the lower leg, authorities said. Reddington was taken to the hospital in good condition, police said.Video taken of the incident shows Bishop’s dancing as onlookers cheered him on. The gun can be seen going off after it fell out of the holster and he went to retrieve it.He has been charged with one count of second-degree assault, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said Tuesday. He turned himself in after the charge was filed, but additional charges could be pending after the results of his blood-alcohol content analysis are received, according to the district attorney's office.In court on Wednesday, the judge gave Bishop permission to travel back to Washington, D.C., where he lives. He was released on $1,000 bond Tuesday, jail records show.Bishop did not enter a plea and declined to answer any questions as he left the courthouse.Bishop's attorney, David Goddard, told ABC News the ordeal has been "devastating" to both his client and Reddington. Goddard declined to comment on the case itself "until the Denver Police Department has an opportunity to complete their investigation." But, he said his client would welcome the opportunity to meet with Reddington."What happened on June 2, 2018 was an incredibly tragic event. Mr. Bishop and his family are praying for Mr. Reddington’s full and speedy recovery," Bishop said. "Mr. Reddington has publicly expressed a desire to speak privately with Mr. Bishop. Mr. Bishop has expressed that same desire since the incident. When appropriate, Mr. Bishop would welcome the opportunity to meet and speak privately with Mr. Reddington.Reddington told ABC News last week that he thought someone was setting off a firecracker before realizing he had been shot."It's bizarre. It's beyond bizarre," Reddington said, describing the incident. "It's beyond comprehension I think right now for me, just with all the factors involved."The FBI declined to comment Tuesday on the filing of the formal assault charge against Bishop. An FBI official previously told ABC News Bishop would "be held accountable."
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