A Border Patrol agent who separated migrant families says it was 'the most horrible thing I've ever done'

YouTube/Frontline PBS | OfficialBorder Patrol agent Wesley Farris said in a PBS Frontline documentary that separating one two-year-old from his family was the breaking point for him.
  • A Border Patrol agent says separating migrant families in the spring of 2018 was “the most horrible thing I’ve ever done.”
  • The officer, Wesley Farris, told PBS’s “Frontline” that he had to separate a devastated two-year-old boy from his family, and that he refused to do it again afterwards.
  • “The world was upside down to that kid,” Farris said. “I said at that one, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.'”
  • Thousands of families were separated under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy criminally punishing migrants for crossing the US-Mexico border illegally.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Border Patrol agent says he regrets his work separating migrant families, telling PBS’s “Frontline” it was “the most horrible thing I’ve ever done.”

The Trump administration’s family separations occurred mainly in the spring of 2018 under its “zero tolerance” policy to prosecute migrants who illegally crossed the US-Mexico border. Ultimately, thousands of families were separated under the policy, and children were taken to shelters across the country while their parents were detained or deported without them.

Though many of the families were eventually reunited weeks or months later, it’s unclear exactly how many children were stripped from their parents, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Migrant child family reunitedAssociated Press/Eric GayHonduras immigrant seeking asylum, Carlos Fuentes Maldonado holds his daughter Mia, 1, after they were reunited in San Antonio on July 23, 2018.

Wesley Farris, identified by “Frontline” as a high-ranking officer with El Paso’s Border Patrol union, said his fellow agents similarly disliked the orders to separate the families. He said he didn’t raise his concerns with the policy up the chain of command, but that he wanted to.

“I had to separate children from their parents … You can’t help but see your own kids,” he said. “None of us were happy about it. But everyone around me was just doing exactly what we all were told to do this.”

Farris said the breaking point for him came when he separated a two-year-old boy from his family. He said he refused to do it again after seeing the child’s devastation.

“The world was upside down to that kid. So when the contractor tried to take him away, he reached for me. He climbed up on me again and he was holding onto me. So that one got me a little bit. That was tough,” Farris said.

He continued: “I said at that one, ‘I’m not doing this anymore. I won’t do it.’ I went back to my supervisor and I told him, ‘Don’t assign me to do that anymore.'”

The clip of Farris’ comments was published Tuesday as part of the documentary “Targeting El Paso.”

The Customs and Border Protection agency did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Watch a clip of his interview with “Frontline” below:

Watch the full documentary here »

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