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What it's like to have your parent taken by ICE

“I thought I was still dreaming until I heard the banging on the door.”

President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, which resulted in separating over 2,000 children from their parents at the southern U.S. border, has stoked international outrage.

But it’s not the only American policy that’s splitting up families.

Across the country, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, through targeted enforcement operations, are apprehending, detaining, and deporting undocumented immigrants — often leaving family members behind.


Thirteen-year-old Jose is among the thousands of people recently affected by the sharp rise in ICE arrests and interior deportations under the Trump administration.

“I thought I was still dreaming until I heard the banging on the door,” Jose said after watching ICE agents arrest his father at their home in May. “I just started panicking. I didn’t know what to do. I was shaking.”

Jose is among more than 4 million U.S.-born children who have an undocumented mother or father. And with interior deportations on the rise, more kids like him will have to adjust to a future without a parent.

“I’ve gone through it once, I can probably do it again, and just try, just really struggle with it," Jose said. "Not forget about [my dad], but try to move forward like my mom said.”

This segment originally aired June 21, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.