"We were not prepared for the nightmare that we faced here,” reads an open letter penned July 15 by 54 migrants detained at the Port Isabel Service Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas, according to CNN.
The letter, handwritten in Spanish, is addressed to the people of the United States and it’s a plea for help. In particular, the parents ask to be reunited with their children, from whom they’ve been separated for more than a month under US President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, which sundered around 3,000 families.
"Each day is more painful than the last,” the letter reads. “Many of us have only had the chance to speak to our children once (this is very difficult because the social workers never answer). The children cry, they don't recognize our voices, and they feel abandoned and unloved. This makes us feel like we are dead.”
"With all this trauma; the nightmares, anxiety, and pain that this government has caused us and our children, we still have to fight for our asylum cases," it continues.
The letter is a heartbreaking indictment of the cruelty and dysfunction of the zero tolerance policy, which was partly rescinded after overwhelming public outrage.
The Department of Homeland Security has missed a court-ordered deadline to reunite children under five with their parents and is on track to miss the larger deadline of reuniting all separated migrant children with their families by July 26.
That’s because the administration failed to properly document the separations and detentions, according to The New York Times.
The letter from the parents goes on to describe how their collective fight for asylum seems to be doomed because the judges and officials overseeing their cases are rejecting them without sufficient analysis.
This lack judicial integrity is common in US immigration courts, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where asylum seekers often have their cases tried in a manner of minutes without legal representation and asylum seekers have been deported to their death.
The possibility for asylum became even harder last month when Attorney General Jeff Sessions said domestic violence is no longer an adequate reason for receiving asylum.
The parents also feel as if they are being pressured to accept deportation if they want to see their kids again.
“The asylum official is denying nearly all cases and so are the judges,” they wrote. “They don't give us an opportunity to explain why we came here. We also feel pressured to sign for our deportation as a quick means to reunite with our children.”
“We feel like there is no way out of this nightmare because the asylum officials and the judges are against us,” the letter reads. “Please help us and bring justice to Texas!”
The detention center where the parents are confined has a long history of human rights abuses, The Texas Tribune reports. And the ongoing separation of parents from their children constitutes another human rights violation, according to the United Nations.
Letters have become a powerful testimony to the injustices abounding in the period of zero tolerance and its aftermath.
Read More: 7 Ways You Can Help Immigrants
Recently, dozens of actors read a letter from a Honduran mother seeking asylum who was was separated from her son who was too young to talk.
And countless letters from children pleading for their parents have been publicized in recent weeks.
“Mommy, I love you and adore you and miss you so much,” a girl named Leticia kept in detention wrote to her mother, according to The Times. “Please, Mom, communicate. Please, Mom. I hope that you’re OK and remember, you are the best thing in my life.”