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Fronteras: Voices Of Detained Immigrant Children Amplified In New Book, ‘Escucha Mi Voz’

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Warren Binford is an international children’s advocate, professor at the University of Colorado and co-founder of Project Amplify.
Courtesy of Warren Binford
Warren Binford is an international children’s advocate, professor at the University of Colorado and co-founder of Project Amplify.

The concern of a growing number of unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border is in the national spotlight once again.

Congressional and Senate delegations have parachuted to the southern region to inspect the conditions of U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facilities. Some Republican lawmakers are calling the situation a “crisis,” but CBP apprehension data indicates the current situation actually mirrors a seasonal trend, when more migrants make the dangerous journey as temperatures warm.

Still, despite this predictable pattern, the uptick of unaccompanied minors has renewed pressure on President Joe Biden’s administration to safely and humanely manage those in CBP custody and discussions around immigration and foreign policies are being amplified.

But amidst the rhetoric funneling out of Capitol Hill, one side is often overshadowed — the children in custody.

“The (migrant) children were convinced — and so were we — that if the American public only knew what was happening to these children, that these practices would end,” said Warren Binford, an international children’s advocate and professor at the University of Colorado.

Binford is also the co-founder of Project Amplify, a national campaign aimed at establishing legal protections for children in government care. She compiled legally-recorded testimonies and documents from migrant children in federal custody to create “Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz,” a bilingual illustrated book detailing the experiences of these children.

The testimonies are interpreted through illustrations created by over a dozen Latinx artists, including Yuyi Morales and Raúl the Third.

Binford was one of the few private citizens allowed to inspect CBP facilities from 2017–2020 and witnessed the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions first-hand. She said she hopes the book — whose royalties will go directly to Project Amplify — will bring a new perspective to the issue of immigration.

“We're hopeful that by putting it in this format, that there will be more people who are able to hear the children's voices, read their stories in the children's own words and better understand the nature of what's happening at America's borders.”

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren