An Indian woman, who is seeking asylum in the United States, has been separated from her five-year-old disabled son, The Washington Post reported on Friday. Bhavan Patel, 33, had crossed illegally crossed into the US from Mexico.
This is the first known case of an Indian national being separated from her child in recent months under the ‘zero-tolerance’ policy imposed by President Donald Trump’s administration, PTI reported.
Patel’s attorney Alinka Robinson said she fled political persecution in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, travelled to Greece and then Mexico before crossing the US border illegally. “Her son is not doing well,” Robinson said at a bond hearing in a court in Arizone on Tuesday.
The court on Tuesday asked Patel to deposit a $30,000 (Rs 20 lakh) bond. During the hearing, Robinson asked Judge Irene C Feldman to grant her client a $10,000 (Rs 6.84 lakh) bond so she could “reunite with her son”. However, a prosecutor from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the court that Patel was a flight risk.
The judge then questioned her about her path to the US and whether she had paid a smuggler.
“An asylum officer had already found she had a ‘credible fear’ of being hurt or killed if she were sent back to India,” Robinson said. “She told the judge that her brother arranged her passage and that she never paid a smuggler.”
The judge seemed sceptical and then set bond at $30,000.
Patel is one of the few parents separated from their children at Eloy Detention Centre in Arizona to have a bond set, according to The Washington Post.
Over 100 Indians, mostly from Punjab, have been detained in two detention centres in the US for illegally entering the country through its southern border. Around 40 to 45 Indians are at a federal detention centre in New Mexico while 52 Indians, mostly Sikhs and Christians, are held in Oregon.
The Trump administration has faced severe criticism since Attorney General Jeff Sessions in May announced a “zero tolerance” policy that allows authorities to file criminal charges against undocumented immigrants. On June 18, investigative news website ProPublica published an audio recording of immigrant children from Central America crying inconsolably for their parents at a detention centre on the US-Mexico border.