Footage and audio from a facility in New York that’s housing children separated from their parents due to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy was aired on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show on Monday night. It shows footage of a young girl crying for her mother, as well as an audio recording of a worker appearing to imply that kids might be deported if they talk to the press.
The recordings were taken by an anonymous worker at Cayuga Centers in East Harlem, who has since resigned from her job after discovering that it was collaborating with the Trump administration. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that 243 of the estimated 300 children separated from their parents at the border are housed at Cayuga.
In an audio recording from the facility played on Maddow’s show, a worker appears to warn—or, if you are feeling less generous, threaten—the children about talking to the media, saying that it could have consequences for their cases. “I know I am not supposed to be telling you, but I am going to tell you the truth. If for whatever reason you tell a reporter, you know what’s going to happen to your case?” the unidentified worker tells the children in Spanish. “It is going to be on the news—and then one doesn’t know what is going to happen—if you are going to last here for a long time. I am not trying to scare you. I am just telling you, that’s the truth.
“You have to be careful not to talk,” she adds. “Because while you are here, you guys are okay. We are protecting you. We are trying to help you guys so that you can reunify with your family or whoever it be. Understood?”
Last week, ProPublica published audio of wailing children who had just been separated from their parents at the border. According to Maddow, the video aired on her show was the first time footage from one of these facilities which hasn’t been approved by the government has been released to the public.
“I am here today because I feel like it’s important to make a difference. I feel that it’s time for everybody to stand up and stop being afraid and actually help these children who are being separated from their parents,” the unnamed whistleblower told MSNBC. “It’s sad to know that these children are crying for their parents. They don’t know where their parents are.”
The whistleblower said that there has been a “huge influx of younger kids” at the facility. “The amount of kids that are little that are coming alone compared to teenagers, it’s way higher,” she said. “So that tells you something. How are these kids coming on? That’s not OK.”
In addition to the audio recording, Maddow also played a video taken from inside the facility which shows a young girl who is crying for her mother, who she says is in Virginia. She tells a worker that she came to the United States with her sister, and says that she hadn’t spoken to her mother for a week.
“We’re not allowed to know what’s going on with the child. We’re not allowed to ask any questions,” the whistleblower told MSNBC. “If the child is not okay, the only thing we’re allowed to ask is: ‘Do you want to speak to your case manager? Do you want to speak to your clinician?’ I wasn’t aware of anything that was going on until [recent coverage of the administration’s family separation policy] happened.”
The whistleblower also told MSNBC that they weren’t allowed to hug the kids or touch them.
“I decided not to follow that rule this week,” she said. “I hugged them. I don’t care anymore.”