The Weekly season 1 episode 3 recap: Baby Constantin


The Weekly tackles immigration and the separation of parents from their children at the southern border of the United States in the third episode of this season.

This episode of The Weekly lands a bit differently than the first two, mostly because it takes on an issue that has been widely covered by the media.

However, rather than look at the separation of parents from their children in the broadest sense, The Weekly puts a face to the problem by highlighting the story of four-month-old Constantin Mutu. National immigration reporter Caitlin Dickerson leads the story.

The interesting thing about this episode is, even though it tries to focus on Constantin’s story, the immigration/family separation issue is so massive that Constantin’s story can feel a bit minimized at time. A lot of that is because Dickerson has to lay a lot of groundwork throughout the episode about everything that was going on in Washington (speeches, declarations, policy flip-flops, blatant lies, etc.).

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Dickerson introduces Constantin, the youngest child separated from a parent at the United States border, and his family. His family, led by parents Vasile and Florentina, lives in Central Romania, though they had hoped to immigrate to the United States.

In Romania, they faced discrimination and harassment. Their children (they have five total) were harassed in school and the family struggled to get treatment at hospitals, being called “Gypsies” by those around them. They knew other families that had claimed asylum in the U.S., so they decided to take their youngest two children (one at 4 months and the other 4 years old) first and then get the older children later.

They flew to Mexico and boarded a bus to the border. At a rest stop, Florentina and the 4 year old were separated from Vasile and Constantin. Vasile couldn’t reach her, so he decided to cross the boarder with Constantin and wait for her in Texas.

But, when they tried to cross at the legal entry point (by presenting their passports and asking for political asylum), Vasile was detained and Constantine was taken from him. No explanation was given.

Constantin (again, at four months old) was given an order to appear before a judge. So, he was flown all the way to Michigan.

Meanwhile, Florentina thought it was too dangerous to cross, so she went back to Romania. Vasile had no idea where Constantin was, so he withdrew his application for asylum in the hope that he’d get his son back faster.

Instead, he was kept in a detention center for four months.

Now we can get to Dickerson’s interviews (no confrontations in this episode, unfortunately).

First she sits down with Ana Devereaux and Camila Trefftz, a lawyer and program coordinator (respectively) for the immigrant rights center in Michigan. They typically represent children who crossed the border without parents. But, more and more, they noticed kids saying they were separated from their families.

Seeing how young Constantin was gave them a sense of urgency, a whole team jumped on his case.

THE WEEKLY “Babby Constantin” Episode 3 (Airs Sunday; June 16; 10:00 pm/ep) — Pictured: (l-r) Constantin Mutu, Eddie Mutu. CR: FX

Dickerson also speaks with lawyer Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who filed a lawsuit on behalf of a mother who was separated from her 7-year-old. This became a class action lawsuit.

From what he heard, even though government officials denied it, family separation was increasing. Dickerson was also able to obtain an internal government document of separated children.

This led to her publishing this story in April 2018.

In the ACLU case, the judge even brought up Dickerson’s story, wondering if her reporting (that over 700 children were taken from parents) was correct.

The judge wound up ruling that families had to be reunited, because separating them was unconstitutional.

Constantin, meanwhile, was put in the care of a foster family in Michigan. Dickerson talks to the foster parents, but their faces are blurred. Foster families are barred from talking to the media for security reasons, she explains.

The Weekly then flips back and forth between the foster family and Florentina. Florentina describes how much pain she was in, knowing her son was being raised by strangers. The foster parents talk about how sad it made them, knowing Constantin’s parents couldn’t be there with him.

Dickerson also talks with Scott Shuchart, former senior advisor in the department of homeland security.

Shuchart emphasizes that ICE had no process of tracking where kids wound up. He says they tried to sound the alarm that what was going on had major legal and constitutional problems, but to no avail.

Dickerson goes into the chaos that occurred as attempts were made to reunited families.

Back to Constantin’s story: Vasile was finally allowed to return to Romania after four months in the detention center, but he wasn’t allowed to take Constantin with him.

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Constantin was nine months old (having spent over half his life with foster parents) when he, his foster mother and immigration officials boarded a plane to Romania to reunite the family. When Constantin was handed to Florentina, he reached back for the foster mother.

As this episode of The Weekly winds down, Florentina talks about how Constantin was scared of them when he got back. He was different from the baby they knew.

The episode ends by saying that, while thousands of families have been reunited, there may still be thousands more out there. On top of that, the border separations may still not have been stopped completely.

What did you think of this episode of The Weekly? Let us know in the comments!