Separated: Inside an American Tragedy

Separated: Inside an American Tragedy

by Jacob Soboroff

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Notes From Your Bookseller

A book of gripping details that delves into the Trump administration’s policies on separating children from their parents and how despite the program's illegality, it has continued courtesy of a Congress that does not legislate. The power of the narrative arises from chronological telling, intertwining Soboroff's own journey and the wrenching story of a father and son caught in the horror.


"The seminal book on the child-separation policy." —Rachel Maddow

The award-winning NBC News correspondent lays bare the full truth behind the Trump administration’s systematic separation of families at the US-Mexico border.

In June 2018, Donald Trump’s most notorious decision as president had secretly been in effect for months before most Americans became aware of the astonishing inhumanity being perpetrated by their own government. Jacob Soboroff was among the first journalists to expose this reality after seeing firsthand the living conditions of the children in custody. His influential series of reports ignited public scrutiny that contributed to the president reversing his own policy and earned Soboroff the Cronkite Award for Excellence in Political Broadcast Journalism and, with his colleagues, the 2019 Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism.

But beyond the headlines, the complete, multilayered story lay untold. How, exactly, had such a humanitarian tragedy—now deemed “torture” by physicians—happened on American soil? Most important, what has been the human experience of those separated children and parents?

Soboroff has spent the past two years reporting the many strands of this complex narrative, developing sources from within the Trump administration who share critical details for the first time. He also traces the dramatic odyssey of one separated family from Guatemala, where their lives were threatened by narcos, to seek asylum at the U.S. border, where they were separated—the son ending up in Texas, and the father thousands of miles away, in the Mojave desert of central California. And he joins the heroes who emerged to challenge the policy, and who worked on the ground to reunite parents with children.

In this essential reckoning, Soboroff weaves together these key voices with his own experience covering this national issue—at the border in Texas, California, and Arizona; with administration officials in Washington, D.C., and inside the disturbing detention facilities. Separated lays out compassionately, yet in the starkest of terms, its human toll, and makes clear what is at stake in the 2020 presidential election.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062992215
Publisher: Custom House
Publication date: 07/07/2020
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 23,092
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Jacob Soboroff is a correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC. For his reporting on the child-separation policy, he received the 2019 Walter Cronkite Award for Individual Achievement by a National Journalist and the 2019 Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism. He has appeared on Today, Morning Joe, The Rachel Maddow Show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and numerous other programs. He co-presented (with Katy Tur) the four-part event docuseries American Swamp on MSNBC. He lives in Los Angeles.

Table of Contents

Family Separation and Reunification: Timeline of Key Events ix

Author's Note: "Facts on the Ground" xiii

Prologue: "They Were Going to Kill Us" 1

Part 1

Chapter 1 "I Just Couldn't Do That" 11

Chapter 2 "I Don't Have Those Numbers" 21

Chapter 3 "A Significant Increase" 33

Chapter 4 "Very, Very Worried" 93

Chapter 5 "Get Rid of the List" 139

Part 2

Chapter 6 "These Kids Are Incarcerated" 193

Chapter 7 "They're Cages" 229

Chapter 8 "No Way to Link" 253

Part 3

Chapter 9 "Shocks the Conscience" 285

Chapter 10 "Made-for-TV Drama" 307

Chapter 11 "It Hurts in My Heart" 321

Chapter 12 "We Know That He Is a Good Person" 341

Epilogue: "The Greatest Human-Rights Catastrophe of My Lifetime" 351

Acknowledgments 369

Notes on Sourcing 373

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