U.S. Border Patrol agents arrive to detain a group of Central American asylum seekers near the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

A secret audio recording, obtained by ProPublica, captures the desperate screams from several Central American migrant children who were separated from their parents last week, while a border patrol agent jokes that their cries sound like an "orchestra."

Why it matters: The children's repeated cries for their "Mami" and "Papa" add a vivid dimension to the hotly-contested policy debate that has created a sharp divide in Washington.

Some clips, in Spanish:

  • One child cries "I don't want them to stop my father, I don't want them to deport him," while others wail in the background.
  • A border agent jokes remarks through the screams: "Well, we have an orchestra here, right? ... What we're missing is a conductor."
  • A consular worker murmurs: "This is her identification number... Keep this number. Don't lose it, you hear? Good."
  • One child asks: "Are you going to call my aunt so she can come pick me up? And then, so my mom can come as soon as possible?"

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