Times Insider delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how news, features and opinion come together at The New York Times.The call from Honduras came on a Saturday as I was about to go for a run.One of my contacts was in a village with the family of a 10-year-old girl who has been stranded in a Texas shelter for four months. The girl’s mother was despondent. Her uncle, who had taken the child across the southwest border, had already been deported. Days had turned to months, and there was no knowing when the girl would be returned to her family.“Miriam, do you have any ideas?” asked my contact, who is connected to the large Honduran community in New Orleans. She had been reading my articles about family separations and reunions. I had reached out to her on many occasions in recent years seeking immigrants to interview and feedback on how policies were playing out on the ground.Now she was asking me, the impartial reporter, to get involved. To help. She had been by my side as I interviewed several families who had fled gang violence and extortion and ended up in New Orleans, and was aware that I know immigration attorneys and government officials.I am on the front lines of President Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigration, a campaign promise that he is steadfastly fulfilling. His administration’s decision to separate children from parents at the border has become the story for immigration and border reporters at The Times, as well as for our editor, Kim Murphy. It has captivated, and infuriated, many of our readers.Following an international outcry, the president on June 20 signed an executive order officially ending the practice, arguably the most punitive border-enforcement measure implemented by the United States in modern times. More than a month later, because of a federal court order, the government has been gradually putting children and parents back together.The separations have generated confusion and anguish for immigrants and their advocates, as well as border officials tasked with implementing the policy. Yet while it is difficult not to feel the pain of the migrant families swept up in the drama, I can still be objective without having to suppress my humanity.It’s not something journalists often talk about: We have to be careful, of course, not to cast ourselves as advocates or problem-solvers to the people we interview and the readers we serve, but we should not forgo compassion. I have offered words of comfort to a suffering mother. How can one not? It does not mean I condone her decisions or actions. In fact, I might put myself in her shoes and question them. But I am not there to judge or to take sides.So after the call from Honduras, I decided to look into the case. I contacted a woman who seems to spend every waking hour deploying volunteers to provide transportation, accommodation and legal assistance for separated, and now reunified, families. Within two days, the woman had found a lawyer to help secure the girl’s release. The girl will almost certainly be in Honduras by the time this piece publishes.I have aimed to show readers the real-life impact of the so-called zero tolerance policy through dispassionate portraits. Five-year-old José was separated from his dad and placed in foster care in Michigan. He never let the stick-figure drawing of his family and a sketch of his father out of his sight. Elsa was deported back to Guatemala without her 8-year-old son, Anthony, who remains parked in a shelter.Long after the stories were published, readers still remember them and write asking about the outcome for the subjects. Sometimes I have answers.I move on to the next story and then the next one. When I am in the thick of it, like interviewing moms just reunited with their children at a Greyhound bus station in Phoenix, I am singularly focused on obtaining revealing material in time for deadline. Your kids did not recognize you? Tell me more. I race to tap out a few paragraphs to dispatch to my editor among crying babies, disheveled beggars and announcements blaring over the loud speaker.The intensity of what I am witnessing sometimes only hits when I am in a hotel room alone in the quiet of the night. The reporting pace is often frenetic.But recently I spent many hours with a 5-year-old Brazilian boy who was separated from, and then reunited with, his mother. For a while, after going into temporary foster care, he was barely eating. When I met him, his trauma was manifested in ways that I will describe in an upcoming article. For now, I will say he did not welcome me or Todd Heisler, a Times photographer I worked with.As the day passed, the boy felt more comfortable in our company and behaved more and more like any kid his age, a fearless one at that: He dangled upside down from a jungle gym and swung from a rope at a playground. He cackled with glee as he sped his bike down a path in the park out of our sight.On the edge of that park was a pool, which he had been pining for. We stopped to inquire about hours, and I did the asking, because his mother speaks little English. I also learned there were free swimming lessons — and two slots left.I helped his mother sign up the boy and his 8-year-old relative. They start on Monday.