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Listen: Children cry for their parents after being separated at the border

Throughout the eight-minute recording released by ProPublica, Central American children cry out for 'mami' and 'papa.'
Credit: John Moore
A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Last week, several Central American children were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. In newly-released audio, listeners can hear what it sounded like.

ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news organization, posted the recording online Monday afternoon. The organization said the audio was recorded inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility one day last week.

Throughout the eight-minute recording, 10 children sob and continuously call out for "mami" and "papa." A 6-year-old girl asks one of the border patrol agents to call her aunt. "Are you going to call my aunt so she can come pick me up?" she says.

The girl then recites her aunt's phone number. ProPublica said it spoke with the girl's aunt, who said she was able to talk to the child.

"Imagine getting a call from your 6-year-old niece," said the aunt, according to ProPublica. "She’s crying and begging me to go get her. She says, ‘I promise I’ll behave, but please get me out of here. I’m all alone.'"

At one point in the recording, as children continue to cry, a border patrol agent comments in Spanish, "We have an orchestra here. What we're missing is a conductor."

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she hadn't heard the audio during a press conference Monday afternoon.

But she said children who have been separated from their families are not being treated inhumanely.

Nearly 2,000 minors have been separated from their families in the past six weeks, since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a zero tolerance policy where everyone caught crossing the border illegally will be prosecuted. Children can't go to jail with their parents, so they are separated.

It's unclear where the recording was taken. ProPublica also didn't specify who made the recording, but said "the person who made the recording asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation." The person then gave the audio to a civil rights attorney, who gave the audio to ProPublica.

Contributing: Associated Press

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