Left in Lowell

Left in Lowell Local blog based in Lowell, MA that remarks upon local, state, and national politics. And sometimes international. Really, everything is fair game!

03/27/2020
City of Lowell, MA - Government

City of Lowell, MA - Government

As of March 27, there have been 40 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the City of Lowell. Please view this video for a comprehensive update from Lowell City Manager Eileen Donoghue on the situation in the City and efforts being undertaken in response to this ongoing public health crisis.

You know it takes a special story for me to share a Lowell Sun article. This is amazing, really truly.
03/24/2020
A need arises for masks, and local makers respond to coronavirus crisis

You know it takes a special story for me to share a Lowell Sun article. This is amazing, really truly.

A dozen 3D printers hum in the background at Lowell Makes on Merrimack Street, each meticulously creating a new N95 alternative mask to help local health care workers, when an alarm sounds on Mike …

City of Lowell, MA - Government
03/20/2020

City of Lowell, MA - Government

There has been a significant increase in flushing of wipes, posing potential challenges to the City's sewer system. Residents are advised that flushing any type of wipe, including disinfecting wipes and wipes marked as "flushable" causes clogging at pump stations and may result in sewer backups.

I've updated this post quite a lot, with some new entries as I find info...last night, we got Blue Taleh delivery throug...
03/19/2020
Resources: Supporting the Local Community – Left in Lowell

I've updated this post quite a lot, with some new entries as I find info...last night, we got Blue Taleh delivery through DoorDash, and it was really simple. If you have cash to spare think about livening up your home cooking with some local delivery eats.

Resources: Supporting the Local Community Resources: Supporting the Local Community March 15, 2020 Lynne Comments 6 comments NEW NOTE: THERE ARE NEW RESTRICTIONS GOING INTO PLACE. RESTAURANT “EAT IN” BAN EFFECTIVE TUEDAY Folks, the governor just had a press conference (3/15 around 7:30pm) announ...

03/18/2020

If you're looking for some of my previous posts to help the community in this tough time, and they're missing, blame Facebook. They ran through a bunch of recent posts on this page and my personal page and tagged it "against community standards." My guess is it's a bad algorithm they rolled out and it mucked everything up (I am not the only one this happened to).

Honestly, this is a crappy way to run a social media network. DO BETTER FACEBOOK. Now is not the time to be erasing two days of community links. 😡😡😡😡

City of Lowell, MA - Government
03/17/2020

City of Lowell, MA - Government

Effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020 the City of Lowell has activated its Emergency Operation Center (EOC). The EOC will serve to assist Lowell residents in situations related to coronavirus and to provide immediate responses to inquiries related to the situation, and will be operational from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday until further notice. The EOC can be reached by phone at 978-674-4052.

More information: https://www.lowellma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/11050/PRESS-RELEASE-City-of-Lowell-Activates-Emergency-Operation-Center_31720?bidId=

Hopefully the state legislature moves fast. I think they are sufficiently motivated.
03/17/2020
Bills To Help Workers, Municipalities Now In Mass. Legislature’s Hands

Hopefully the state legislature moves fast. I think they are sufficiently motivated.

Support the news Bills To Help Workers, Municipalities Now In Mass. Legislature’s HandsMarch 16, 2020Matt Murphy, State House News ServiceWith closures tied to the coronavirus outbreak impacting everything from restaurants and schools to municipal offices, Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday filed a suit...

Live town hall on Friday with our US Rep, Lori Trahan, on the current crisis.
03/17/2020

Live town hall on Friday with our US Rep, Lori Trahan, on the current crisis.

A number of updates have been made, including details of how to be a part of a Lowell mutual aid group.
03/16/2020
Resources: Supporting the Local Community – Left in Lowell

A number of updates have been made, including details of how to be a part of a Lowell mutual aid group.

Resources: Supporting the Local Community Resources: Supporting the Local Community March 15, 2020 Lynne Comments 2 comments NEW NOTE: THERE ARE NEW RESTRICTIONS GOING INTO PLACE. RESTAURANT “EAT IN” BAN EFFECTIVE TUEDAY Folks, the governor just had a press conference (3/15 around 7:30pm) announ...

FYI Lowell. (Don't panic, there were bound to be cases in Lowell eventually as we got our testing regime up to speed.) S...
03/16/2020

FYI Lowell. (Don't panic, there were bound to be cases in Lowell eventually as we got our testing regime up to speed.) Stay home, if you go out sanitize everything, etc etc.

On Sunday, March 15, the City of Lowell was notified by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) that two Lowell residents have tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19), marking the first presumptive positive cases in the City. The cases are being handled according to stringent protocols recommended by DPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Read full press release here: https://www.lowellma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/11025/PRESS-RELEASE-Lowell-Residents-Tests-Positive-for-Coronavirus_31620?bidId=

A crowdsourced list of local, small food markets to support, if you need to go out and stock up. Remember to practice go...
03/16/2020
Local Small Food Markets To Support – Left in Lowell

A crowdsourced list of local, small food markets to support, if you need to go out and stock up. Remember to practice good social distancing and sanitizing your hands.

Local Small Food Markets To Support Local Small Food Markets To Support March 16, 2020 Lynne Comments 0 Comment I crowdsourced this list once again, and there was an incredible amount of information, so I am making a separate post. The main Community Resources post is here. We have an embarrassment....

I am still writing this post, but I have enough to start the ball rolling. This is a resource list on how to support and...
03/15/2020
Resources: Supporting the Local Community – Left in Lowell

I am still writing this post, but I have enough to start the ball rolling. This is a resource list on how to support and be supported in our community at this time. Details are changing rapidly, so always check with the org or business in question before ordering or (rarely, please) visiting a location.

Resources: Supporting the Local Community Resources: Supporting the Local Community March 15, 2020 Lynne Comments 0 Comment This post is going to be a continually updated resource on ways that you, stuck at home during this period of social distancing (which is the FIRST way you should be supporting...

We have to pull together as a community. Here are some thoughts.
03/14/2020
Love (and Business) In The Time of Corona – Left in Lowell

We have to pull together as a community. Here are some thoughts.

Love (and Business) In The Time of Corona Love (and Business) In The Time of Corona March 14, 2020 Lynne Comments 0 Comment For folks who are friends of mine on Facebook, my writing and posting about COVID-19 and the worldwide response to it is very old hat. I have been very carefully following all....

I can't believe I have to post this. Seriously!
03/11/2020
What Is Nangle Playing At? – Left in Lowell

I can't believe I have to post this. Seriously!

What Is Nangle Playing At? What Is Nangle Playing At? March 11, 2020 Lynne Comments 0 Comment The Sun recently reported in their outmoded format, the Sunday Rumor Monger (oh, sorry, it’s called “The Column”) that state Representative David Nangle (17th Middlesex) may be planning to pull papers...

09/25/2019

A report from Robert Casey in Lowell Live Feed, copied verbatim with permission, as it might be of interest!
---
City Manager Donahue recently spoke at a downtown neighborhood meeting. Thank you Lowell Downtown neighborhood Association for sponsoring. My takeaways:

1. Along with new strategies to deal with homelessness, the city conducted a “census” and estimates Lowell has approximately 200 homeless residents.
2. While the traditional model is to try to counsel and assist the homeless first, research shows finding housing first, in settings where services are available, is more effective.
3. The homeless population is overwhelmingly single adults; the state has better services for families.
4, The Central Street Bridge project is stalled because of engineering issues, but the bridge will be repaired. It is not slated for demolition/replacement.
5. The State (MDOT) is the principal on the Central St project with the city’s and National Park Service’s input. (I believe the city must insist on an expedited project. 2+ years is unacceptable).
6. The new court house is scheduled for completion on December 25. (Go figure). Moving the various agencies into the new building will take place over a period of months during 2020.
7. The Crime Rate in the downtown area is already low and has dropped. The manager accredits the police department’s leadership and its community policing approach. (I agree)
8. The LPD recently made several arrests in the South Common area for a variety of violations. As explained, however, the purpose was twofold: enforcement but also to get some of these at risk folks into services. (A good approach).

09/23/2019

Folks, tomorrow is the Lowell preliminary election for City Council (final CC and School Comm election will be in Nov). Here are my votes for Council tomorrow, in case you are wondering:

Karen Cirillo, Vesna Nuon, John Drinkwater, Ty Chum, Harry Kortikere, Juan Castaneda

Edit: PLEASE NOTE: Samaras endorsed Baker last year, which has been a disaster for cities and towns. I'm taking him off my list. Thanks to a friend who reminded me.

These are the progressive candidates and incumbents who would work together to address climate change, the needs of everyone in our city, and shepherd Lowell into a future we can all believe in.

--Lynne

Lowell's results on Question 3. So proud!
11/07/2018

Lowell's results on Question 3. So proud!

Happening right now! Cultural Exchange Pot Luck, till 5pm! Food, kids activities, entertainment! Part of Welcoming Week.
09/15/2018

Happening right now! Cultural Exchange Pot Luck, till 5pm! Food, kids activities, entertainment! Part of Welcoming Week.

09/11/2018
LTC Lowell

Really important. Please watch!

*** LTC News short: Recycling 101 ***
Gunther Wellenstein walks us through some household recycyling do's and don'ts. Tips: DO recycle pizza boxes, but only the non-greasy sections. DON'T use a plastic bag to gather your recycling - the bag and its contents will be rejected when the recycling is sorted.

08/28/2018
3rd Congressional, Registrar of Deeds, State Senate, Gov Endorsements – Left in Lowell

Folks, we're a week out from Primary Day in Massachusetts! For my list of endorsements in local races, you can read up here. For what it's worth!

Also, if you are in Dracut or Tyngsboro, where you have a choice between awful incumbent Colleen Garry or her progressive challenger Sabrina Heisey, you know what to do!!

3rd Congressional, Registrar of Deeds, State Senate, Gov Endorsements 3rd Congressional, Registrar of Deeds, State Senate, Gov Endorsements June 14, 2018 Lynne All right. It’s time to get off the proverbial fence. There’s other phrases I won’t use about pots and getting off them, but the seaso...

Be a superhero, prevent brownouts in a heat wave, AND SAVE THE PLANET! All while not spending any more money than you wo...
08/14/2018
Go Solar If You Can, Before 2020! – Left in Lowell

Be a superhero, prevent brownouts in a heat wave, AND SAVE THE PLANET! All while not spending any more money than you would have anyway, and paying zero or nearly nothing to the awful, union-busting, overpriced National Grid.

There really is no downside.

Go Solar If You Can, Before 2020! Go Solar If You Can, Before 2020! August 14, 2018 Lynne Comments 0 Comment The hot, sticky, generally annoying but also deadly heat waves that have swept the northern hemisphere have few upsides to them. In Japan, northern Europe including the UK and France, as well...

😡 Baker is the WORST. He is an immoral GOPer through and through.
07/29/2018
Blue Mass Group

😡 Baker is the WORST. He is an immoral GOPer through and through.

Look at Charlie Baker’s priorities: “5,200 children with a severely disabled parent would lose their welfare benefits entirely under the change, and 2,100 children would lose part of their benefit.” #mapoli

State Primary: Sept 4 (day after Labor Day). Need to check your registration status, change your address, or even regist...
07/24/2018
Online Voter Application

State Primary: Sept 4 (day after Labor Day). Need to check your registration status, change your address, or even register to vote from scratch? You can do ALL that here!
https://www.sec.state.ma.us/OVR/Welcome.aspx

Remember, if you are listed as Inactive, don't panic, just bring ID with your current address to prove your place of residence you are registered at. "Acceptable forms of identification include: a driver's license, state-issued ID card, recent utility bill, rent receipt, lease, a copy of a voter registration affidavit, or any other printed identification which contains your name and address."

http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleinactivevoters/inactivevotersidx.htm

07/16/2018
Recycling in Lowell: Clean Up Your Act! – Left in Lowell

IMPORTANT! How and what we place into our bins has a huge impact on our bottom line...and also how much we actually recycle instead of landfill.

Recycling in Lowell: Clean Up Your Act! Recycling in Lowell: Clean Up Your Act! July 16, 2018 Lynne Comments 0 Comment With the Chinese ban on plastics recycling imports at the beginning of this year, recycling has become a very hot topic, and Lowell is no exception. Past Council discussions have re...

07/09/2018
Lowell National Historical Park

So neat!

What layers of history do you uncover during a construction project in Lowell? Join @Lowell National Historical Park planner Christine and explore the hidden waterways that would have run the Spindle City. The City of Lowell, MA - Government is currently working on a major construction project on Dutton Street between the Merrimack Canal and the Pawtucket Canal. Get an inside look at that project with city engineer David Sleeper and Newport Construction foreman Al Maimone.

#FindYourPark #NPS101 #LikeLowell #LowellNPS

07/06/2018
www.wcvb.com

Mill No 5 on Channel 5's Chronicle!

Another must-read."To grasp what is going on in the world right now, we need to reflect on two things. One is that we ar...
06/27/2018
Fintan O’Toole: Trial runs for fascism are in full flow

Another must-read.

"To grasp what is going on in the world right now, we need to reflect on two things. One is that we are in a phase of trial runs. The other is that what is being trialled is fascism – a word that should be used carefully but not shirked when it is so clearly on the horizon. Forget “post-fascist” – what we are living with is pre-fascism."

and

"It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility. You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes. They get people used to something they may initially recoil from; and they allow you to refine and calibrate."

and

"Fascism does not need a majority – it typically comes to power with about 40 per cent support and then uses control and intimidation to consolidate that power. So it doesn’t matter if most people hate you, as long as your 40 per cent is fanatically committed. That’s been tested out too."

and

"To see, as most commentary has done, the deliberate traumatisation of migrant children as a “mistake” by Trump is culpable naivety. It is a trial run – and the trial has been a huge success."

Read it.

Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism

06/26/2018
Elizabeth Warren

I DARE you to read this through and NOT see this as human rights abuses by fascists.

"The Trump administration may be "reunifying" families, but their definition of a family is only a parent and a child. If, for example, a 9-year-old crosses with an 18-year-old sister – or an aunt or uncle, or a grandparent, or anyone who isn't the child's documented legal guardian – they are not counted as a family and they will be separated.

Mothers and children may be considered "together" if they're held in the same gigantic facility, even if they're locked in separate cages with no access to one another. (In the world of CBP and ICE, that's how the 10-year-old girls locked in a giant cage are "not separated" from their mothers who are in cages elsewhere in the facility.)

In the process of "reunifying" families, the government may possibly count a family as reunited by sending the child to a distant relative they've never met – not their parents. Some relatives may be unwilling to claim these children because it would be inviting ICE to investigate their own families.

Parents are so desperate to be reunited with their children that they may be trading in their legal right to asylum."

ALSO:

"Before we could get in, CBP insisted we had to watch a government propaganda video. There's no other way to describe it – it's like a movie trailer. It was full of dramatic narration about the "illegals" crossing our border, complete with gory pictures about the threats that these immigrants bring to the United States, from gangs to skin rashes. The star of the show is CBP, which, according to the video, has done a great job driving down the numbers."

Sunday morning, I flew to McAllen, Texas to find out what's really happening to immigrant families ripped apart by the Trump administration.

There's one thing that's very clear: The crisis at our border isn't over.

I went straight from the airport to the McAllen Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processing center that is the epicenter of Donald Trump's so-called "zero-tolerance" policy. This is where border patrol brings undocumented migrants for intake before they are either released, deported, turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or, in the case of unaccompanied or separated children, placed in the custody of Health and Human Services.

From the outside, the CBP processing center looks like any other warehouse on a commercial street lined with warehouses. There's no clue about the horrors inside.

Before we could get in, CBP insisted we had to watch a government propaganda video. There's no other way to describe it – it's like a movie trailer. It was full of dramatic narration about the "illegals" crossing our border, complete with gory pictures about the threats that these immigrants bring to the United States, from gangs to skin rashes. The star of the show is CBP, which, according to the video, has done a great job driving down the numbers.

Then an employee described what we were about to see. "They have separate pods. I'll call them pods. I don't really know how they name them." Clearly they had gotten the memo not to call them what they are: cages. Every question I asked them had a complicated answer that led to two more questions – even the simple question about how long people were held there. "Nobody is here longer than 24 hours." "Well, maybe 24-48 hours." "72 hours max." And "no children are separated out." "Well, except older children."

The warehouse is enormous, with a solid concrete floor and a high roof. It is filled with cages. Cages for men. Cages for women. Cages for mamas with babies. Cages for girls. Cages for boys.

The stench – body odor and fear – hits the second the door is opened. The first cages are full of men. The chain link is about 12-15 feet high, and the men are tightly packed. I don't think they could all lie down at the same time. There's a toilet at the back of the cage behind a half-wall, but no place to shower or wash up. One man kept shouting, "A shower, please. Just a shower."

I asked the men held in cage after cage where they were from. Nearly all of them were from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras.

Then I asked them how long they had been there – and the answers were all over the map, from a few days to nearly two weeks (72 hours max?). The CBP agents rushed to correct the detained men, claiming that their answers couldn't be right. My immigration specialist on the trip who speaks fluent Spanish made sure the men understood that the question was, "How long have you been in the building?" Their answers didn't change.

Cage after cage. Same questions, same answers.

Next we came into the area where the children were held. These cages were bigger with far more people. In the center of the cage, there's a freestanding guard tower probably a story or story-and-a-half taller to look down over the children. The girls are held separately in their own large cage. The children told us that they had come to the United States with family and didn't know where they had been taken. Eleven years old. Twelve. Locked in a cage with strangers. Many hadn't talked to their mothers or fathers. They didn't know where they were or what would happen to them next.
The children were quiet. Early afternoon, and they just sat. Some were on thin mats with foil blankets pulled over their heads. They had nothing – no books, no toys, no games. They looked shell shocked.

And then there were the large cages with women and small children. Women breast-feeding their young children.

When we went over to the mamas with babies, I asked them about why they had left their home countries. One young mother had a 4-year-old child. She said she had been threatened by the gangs in El Salvador. She had given a drink of water to a police officer, and the gang decided she must be in with the police. The longer she spoke, the more agitated she got – that she would never do that, that she understood the risk with the gangs, but that the gangs believed she did it. She sold everything she had and fled with her son to the United States.

One thing you won't see much of in the CBP processing center? Fathers caged with their children. After pressing the CBP agents, they explained that men traveling with children are automatically released from the facility. They just don't have the cages there to hold them. Women with small children, on the other hand, could be detained indefinitely. I pressed them on this again and again. The only answer: they claimed to be protecting "the safety of the mother and children."

CBP said that fathers with children, pregnant women, mothers of children with special needs, and other "lucky ones" who are released from the processing center are sent over to Catholic Charities' Humanitarian Respite Center for help. That was my next stop in McAllen. Sister Norma, her staff, and volunteers are truly doing God's work. Catholic Charities provides food, a shower, clean clothes, and medicine to those who need it. The center tries to explain the complicated process to the people, and the volunteers help them get on a bus to a family member in the United States.

Sister Norma introduced me to a father and his teenage son from Honduras. The father said that a gang had been after his son, determined that the boy would join the gang. The only way for the boy to escape was to run. The man left his wife and four daughters in Honduras to bring his son to the United States. His only plan is to find work here to send money home to his family. His cousin lives in New Jersey, so CBP sent their paperwork to the local ICE center in New Jersey, and they would soon begin the long bus ride there.

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley provides a lifesaving service to people of all faiths and backgrounds, but with a humanitarian crisis in their backyard, they're clearly stretched as thin as it gets. With more money and volunteers, they would gladly help more people.

I asked Sister Norma about the women and babies who were in indefinite detention. She said her group would open their arms and take care of them, get them cleaned up and fed and on a bus to a family member – if only ICE would release them.

"This is a moral issue. We are all part of this human family," they say.

Next, I met with some of the legal experts on the frontlines of this crisis – lawyers from the Texas Civil Rights Project, the Border Rights Center of the Texas ACLU, and the federal public defenders.

I gave them a rundown of everything I'd seen so far in McAllen, particularly when it comes to reuniting parents and children, and they raised some of my worst fears:

The Trump administration may be "reunifying" families, but their definition of a family is only a parent and a child. If, for example, a 9-year-old crosses with an 18-year-old sister – or an aunt or uncle, or a grandparent, or anyone who isn't the child's documented legal guardian – they are not counted as a family and they will be separated.

Mothers and children may be considered "together" if they're held in the same gigantic facility, even if they're locked in separate cages with no access to one another. (In the world of CBP and ICE, that's how the 10-year-old girls locked in a giant cage are "not separated" from their mothers who are in cages elsewhere in the facility.)

In the process of "reunifying" families, the government may possibly count a family as reunited by sending the child to a distant relative they've never met – not their parents. Some relatives may be unwilling to claim these children because it would be inviting ICE to investigate their own families.

Parents are so desperate to be reunited with their children that they may be trading in their legal right to asylum.

The system for tracking separated families is virtually unknown, if one exists at all. One expert worries that for some families, just a simple photo may be all the documentation that the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services have to reunite them. (I sincerely hope that's not true.)

The longer the day went on, the more questions I had about how the Trump administration plans to fix the crisis they've created at the border. So my last stop of the day was at the Port Isabel Detention Center, about an hour east of McAllen. It's one of the largest detention facilities in Texas.

The Department of Homeland Security had released some details on its plan to reunify families. The release noted that Port Isabel will be the "primary family reunification and removal center for adults in their custody."

Let's be clear: Port Isabel isn't a reunification center. It's a detention center. A prison.

There's no ambiguity on this point. I met with the head of the facility. He said several times that they had no space for children, no way to care for them, and no plans to bring any children to his locked-down complex. When I pressed on what was the plan for reunification of children with their parents, he speculated that HHS (the Department of Health and Human Services) would take the children somewhere, but it certainly wasn't going to be to his facility. When I asked how long HHS would take, he speculated that it would be weeks, but he said that was up to them. He had his job to do: He would hold these mothers and fathers until he received orders to send them somewhere else. Period.

So let me say it again. This is a prison – not a reunification center.

We toured the center. It is huge – multiple buildings isolated on a sun-baked expanse of land far from any town. We didn't go to the men's area, but the women are held in a large bunk-bed facility with a concrete outdoor exercise area. It's locked, double-locked, and triple locked. Tall fences topped with razor wire are everywhere, each backed up by a second row of fences also topped with razor wire.

An ICE official brought in a group of nine detained mothers who had volunteered to speak to us. I don't believe that ICE cherry-picked these women for the meeting, because everything they told me was horrifying.

Each mother told us her own story about crossing the border, being taken to a processing center, and the point that they were separated from their child or children. In every case, the government had lied to them about where their children were being taken. In every case, save one, no mother had spoken to her child in the days since the separation. And in every case, no mother knew where her child was.

At the time of separation, most of the mothers were told their children would be back. One woman had been held at "the icebox," a center that has earned its nickname for being extremely cold. When the agent came to take her child, she was told that it was just too cold for the child in the center, and that they were just going to keep the child warm until she was transferred. That was mid-June. She hasn't seen her child since.

One mother had been detained with her child. They were sleeping together on the floor of one of the cages, when, at 3:00am, the guards took her away. She last saw her 7-year-old son sleeping on the floor. She cried over and over, "I never got to say goodbye. I never got to say goodbye." That was early-June, and she hasn't seen him since.

Even though the CBP officials at the processing center told me that mothers with children that have special needs would be released, one of the mothers I spoke with had been separated from her special needs child. She talked about her child who doesn't have properly formed legs and feet and walks with great difficulty. One of the mothers spoke of another mother in the facility who is very worried because her separated child is deaf and doesn't speak at all.

The women I met were traumatized, weeping, and begging for help. They don't understand what is happening to them – and they're begging to be reunited with their kids.

Detainees can pay to make phone calls, but all of their possessions are taken from them at the processing center. The only way they can get money for a call is for someone to put money on their accounts. I asked if people or charities could donate money so that they'd be able to make phone calls to their family or lawyers, but they said no – a donor would need the individual ID number for every person detained at the center, and ICE obviously isn't going to release that information.

Three young lawyers were at Port Isabel at the same time we were. The lawyers told us that their clients – the people they've spoken to in the detention center – have strong and credible cases for asylum. But the entire process for being granted asylum depends on one phone call with an immigration official where they make the case for why they should be allowed to stay. One of the first questions a mother will be asked is, "Have you been separated from a child?" For some of the women, just asking that question makes them fall apart and weep.

The lawyers are worried that these women are in such a fragile and fractured state, they're in no shape to make the kind of detailed, credible case needed for themselves or their children. They had no chance in our system because they've lost their children and desperately want them back.

We stayed inside at Port Isabel for more than two hours – much longer than the 45 minutes we had been promised. When I finally went to bed that night, I thought about something the mothers had told me – something that will likely haunt me for a long time.

The mothers say that they can hear babies cry at night.

This isn't about politics. This isn't about Democrats or Republicans. This is about human beings. Children held in cages today. Babies scattered all over this country. And mamas who, in the dark of night, hear them cry.

I'm still working through everything I saw, but I wanted you to know the full story. The fight for these children and families isn't over – not by a long shot.

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Lowell, MA

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