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Footage leaked by a whistleblower shows a young girl crying in an immigration detention center in New York. (Photo: "The Rachel Maddow Show"/screenshot)

Whistleblower Leaks Video From Detention Facility Where Children Were Threatened Against Speaking to Press

"I feel that it's time for everybody to stand up and stop being afraid and actually help these children being separated from their parents."

Julia Conley

Footage, audio, and photos from inside a children's detention center in New York show a child crying and asking to speak with her mother and an employee ominously warning children that speaking to the press could endanger their immigration case.

A former employee of a facility in New York shared the material with "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC a week after quitting her job in protest of the Trump administration's forcible separation of families.

In one clip, the employee speaks to a young girl named Jessica about her mother, who she says has been sent to Virginia and who she hasn't spoken with in at least a week, and says she will try to connect the two.

Employees are instructed to keep their distance from the children in their care, according to the whistleblower, but she told MSNBC that toward the end of her time at the center she flouted the rule.

"We're not allowed to hug the kids. We're not allowed to touch them at all. I decided not to follow that rule this week. This week I hugged them. I don't care anymore," she said, according to Maddow.

The woman quit her job after realizing the center was holding children who had been taken away from their parents, when a huge influx of younger children arrived at the facility in recent weeks.

"I am here today because I feel like it's important to make a difference," the whistleblower said. "I feel that it's time for everybody to stand up and stop being afraid and actually help these children being separated from their parents."

In one audio clip, another worker is heard telling a group of children that they shouldn't talk to the press about the detention center—and suggesting that doing so could keep them away from their parents and in detention for even longer.

"If for whatever reason you tell a reporter—you know what's going to happen to your case? 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, it's the truth. You have to be careful not to talk," the employee is heard saying.

On social media, some applauded the employee for refusing to be complicit in the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy—under which thousands of children are still currently being kept away from their parents, despite an executive order declaring that the practice was ending—and for shedding light on children's experiences in detention.


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