The Torn Apart

Sarah Ferguson reports on the fallout of a brutal US immigration policy that tore families apart. She tracks the journey of one mother seeking to reunite with her children after four painful years alone. “I begged them to please not take my mom. I told them that it would be better if they deported us to Mexico instead of separating her from me, but they told me…that I had to say goodbye.” It was condemned as cruel and inhumane. But before the US courts struck it down, Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the US-Mexico border did its work. Over 5000 children were removed. While many children stayed in the US, hundreds of parents were deported. Four years later, some families are finding each other again. In a Foreign Correspondent exclusive, Sarah Ferguson tells the powerful story of the first family to reunite since President Biden took office. The family of Honduran mother Keldy Gonzáles Brebe was one of the first to be caught up in a secretive US immigration program run in 2017. Its aim was to deter would-be migrants by separating parents from children. When Keldy crossed the US border into New Mexico in 2017, immigration officials separated her from her two sons, aged 13 and 15. “They told us they were going to separate us from her, that they were going to take us to a juvenile detention centre. I begged the immigration officers to let us go with her, but they said…I had to be separated from her”, says Keldy’s son Patrick, now 19. “From there I lost so many things from not seeing my children. I lost seeing their adolescence. I couldn’t be with them for four years’, Keldy tells Foreign Correspondent. For four years, Keldy marked time in Mexico. Then, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), she received the news she’d been waiting for. We follow Keldy from Mexico to Philadelphia, where her children now live, for the unforgettable scenes of mother and child reunion. We follow her story to Honduras to understand why she fled her home country, meet her family and friends on the Caribbean Coast and see first-hand the brutal violence that drove her to leave. After organising the execution of her brother, the notorious Honduran gang MS-13 threatened to kill Keldy too. We speak to lawyer Lee Gelernt from the ACLU who fought Trump’s immigration policy in the courts and is now helping to bring families back together. “I wanted to be here to see this first reunification”, says Gelernt. “I think you can’t really understand until you see it.’

  • Reporter: Sarah Ferguson
  • Producer: Tony Jones
  • Digital producer: Matt Henry
  • Photography: David Peinado, Hannah Yoon and Tony Jones
  • Cinematography: Bruno Federico

What migrants face as they journey through the deadly Darien Gap

Whether fleeing war, persecution, poverty or the effects of climate change, migrants and refugees worldwide routinely find themselves in great danger. Perhaps the most hazardous migrant trail of all is the Darien Gap, a wild, lawless stretch straddling Colombia and Panama. Before the pandemic, special correspondent Nadja Drost and videographer Bruno Federico reported from this perilous path.

No Justice, No Peace: America’s Uprising against Police Brutality and Racism |ABC Foreign Correspondent

“We are in a state of emergency. Black people are dying in a state of emergency” Tamika Mallory, activist Pictures of a white Minneapolis police officer killing unarmed black man George Floyd provoked an immediate and furious response. Angry protests demanding an end to entrenched racism erupted in scores of cities across America. Floyd’s last words ‘I can’t breathe’ have become a rallying cry. White and black, young and old, across 50 states, have protested peacefully against police violence and racism.

ABC Foreign Correspondent. On New York City’s Coronavirus Frontline

The Big Apple is in bad shape. It’s the epicentre of the US fight against the corona virus outbreak. Its people are in lockdown while frontline services wage war against the pandemic. With over fourteen thousand dead, New York City accounts for around one third of all corona-related deaths in the US. Every day, there are hundreds of new infections and deaths. The city’s hospitals are overflowing, health workers lack medical and protective equipment and morgues have run out of space. Foreign Correspondent’s reporter Karishma Vyas, a New York resident, goes behind the lines of the city’s battle to slow infections, save lives, protect its vulnerable and bury the dead. We follow paramedics as they respond to emergency house calls, helping desperate families. We discover many who die of COVID-19 don’t make the official death toll. We film with the police union as they hand out desperately needed personal safety equipment to their officers. “I thought I’d seen it all on September 11th, but I’ve never seen anything like this. We’re anticipating this getting even worse. So that’s why we’re trying to get this equipment out to our guys”, says a Union officer. We speak with an ICU nurse who’s travelled from out of state to lend a hand in a Bronx hospital. He tells us about working double shifts, often with no break, and the pressure of looking after multiple critically ill patients at the same time. A good day is when none of his patients die. One overworked doctor describes his frustration with the US health system. “I’ve had people come in barely breathing and their first question isn’t ‘Am I going to survive?’ It’s ‘How is this going to impact my family financially?’” “This illness exposes all the fault-lines throughout American society”, says the doctor. And we catch up with characters who embody the city’s spirit of defiance and survival. “I want to be remembered as someone who never left the frontlines and who was essential”, says the Naked Cowboy, a performer whose stage is Times Square – rain, hail or coronavirus. This is an intimate and powerful portrait of a city in crisis. About Foreign Correspondent: Foreign Correspondent is the prime-time international public affairs program on Australia’s national broadcaster, ABC-TV. We produce half-hour duration in-depth reports for broadcast across the ABC’s television channels and digital platforms. Since 1992, our teams have journeyed to more than 170 countries to report on war, natural calamity and social and political upheaval – through the eyes of the people at the heart of it all.

PBS NewsHour. Yielding to U.S. pressure, Mexico clamps down on migrants

Thousands of migrants from around the world, many seeking asylum, have been trying to reach the U.S. by flying to South America and taking the long trek north. But after pressure from President Trump, Mexican authorities are stopping many migrants from passing through their country, stranding them in the city of Tapachula. Special correspondent Nadja Drost and videographer Bruno Federico report.

PBS Newshour. Families of Colombia’s disappeared endure ‘never-ending grief’ and a wrenching search

In Colombia, an estimated 83,000 people have been forcibly disappeared since 1958. But peace accords between the government and the FARC, the country’s largest guerrilla group, in 2016 mandated that finding the missing was a necessary step toward reconciliation. Special correspondent Nadja Drost reports from Colombia on how loved ones suffering a “never-ending grief” are searching for closure.

Venezuela’s political battle over foreign aid turns to violent confrontation

Violent protests erupted this past weekend in Venezuela over humanitarian aid shipments into the country. Meanwhile, Vice President Pence traveled to Colombia to meet with opposition leader Juan Guaido, promising that the U.S. would increase sanctions on Venezuela in an attempt to oust President Maduro, and calling for other countries to do the same. Special correspondent Nadja Drost reports.

Why Venezuela’s Chavistas are fiercely loyal to Maduro, despite economic crisis

Violence has broken out in Venezuela as opposition groups, led by Juan Guaido, attempt to bring in foreign aid against the will of President Nicolas Maduro. Despite international support for Guaido, a fiercely loyal minority of Venezuelans known as Chavistas are determined to keep Maduro in power — and the U.S. out. Special correspondent Nadja Drost and videographer Bruno Federico report.

PBS Newshour. FARC drops its weapons, but Colombia’s deadly conflict goes on

 

Despite the peace deal, new waves of deadly violence are hitting many areas of Colombia, especially those once under FARC-rebel control. And it’s targeting the very people — activists and social leaders — for whom the peace deal was supposed to make life safer. Special correspondent Nadja Drost and videographer Bruno Federico report in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.