From Daily Mail: A Honduran father who was heartbroken after being separated from his wife and child at the US border killed himself while in custody last month.
Marco Antonio Muñoz, 39, was found dead on the floor of his Star County, Texas jail cell on May 13, lying in a small pool of his own blood with an article of clothing tied around his neck.
Texas authorities believe that Muñoz suffered a breakdown when he was separated from his family after entering the US illegally through the Rio Grande, according to a Star County Sheriff’s report obtained by The Washington Post.
The incident occurred shortly after the Trump administration instituted a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on illegal immigration, which seeks to prosecute individuals arrested for unlawful entry into the US.
‘If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,’ US Attorney General Jeff Sessions told reporters on May 8 while announcing the new White House initiative.
‘We don’t want to separate families, but we don’t want families to come to the border illegally and attempt to enter into this country improperly,’ Sessions added.
Nearly one of every four Border Patrol arrests on the Mexican border from October through April was someone who came in a family, meaning any large increase in prosecutions is likely to cause parents to be separated from their children while they face charges and do time in jail.
So far, the policy (should say lawbreakers) has separated more than 1,800 families, according to The New York Daily News.
A Border Patrol source who spoke to the Post said Muñoz had crossed into the US on May 12 with his wife and three-year-old son. They were apprehended shortly after their arrival in the small border town of Granjeno, Texas, which serves as a common crossing point for immigrants.
After being transferred to a detention facility, the Post reports that Muñoz attempted to apply for asylum.
Border agents said Muñoz ‘lost it’ after they informed him they would be separating him from his family, at one point law enforcement resorting to ‘physical force to take the child out of his hands.’
The report stated that while Muñoz had not attempted to hurt any of the Border Agents, he was described as being in a ‘preassault’ state because he was so agitated. As one agent told the Post, he ‘had the look of a guy at a bar who wanted to fight someone.’
Muñoz remained combative for most of the evening, attempting to escape at one point during his detention. ‘He yelled and kicked at the windows on the ride to the jail,’ the agent added.
Muñoz was booked into the Star County Jail at 9.40pm and placed in a padded cell, with guards checking on him every 30 minutes.
At around 9.50am the next day, a guard discovered Muñoz unresponsive on the floor of his cell without a pulse. The guard ‘noticed a small pool of blood by his nose,’ and ‘a piece of clothing twisted around his neck which was tied to the drainage location in the center of the cell,’ the Post reported.
Muñoz’s wife and son were later released from custody, according to the Post. It remains unclear if the family was allowed to claim his remains.
The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the border patrol, says they are working on new programs to help explain the separation process to the American people and individuals affected by the policy.
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