Federal judge orders officials to reunite migrant mom and child separated for eight months
A Salvadoran mom was reunited with her child after being separated for months by the Trump administration, and it was a separation based on a lie: officials at the border had accused her of gang affiliations. “He shoved me in an office, and he said, I need you to give me information about the gangs in your country,” Yvette, who asked to have her last name disclosed, told NPR. “I want you to tell me what you’re coming to do here.”
But Yvette isn’t a gang member. Neither is Carlos, or Julio, but that hasn’t stopped immigration officials from flinging false accusations at parents in order justify taking their children away. In late November, a federal judge sided with Yvette, ordering officials to return her son to her, calling their separation “arbitrary, capricious and punitive.” The two had been separated for eight months by the time she saw his little face again.
“He came running towards me, calling, Mama,” she said. “And he hugged me and kissed me. I was crying. I had felt an emptiness in my heart. But once I was finally with him, everything changed.” But like so many of the thousands of children who were stolen from parents and families at the border under the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy, he’s traumatized.
“When he sleeps, he wants to be hugging me,” she said. “Whenever I start to move away, he holds on. I think he feels I’m going to leave him again.” Lizzy, another child recently reunited with her mom after months of separation, is also imprisoned by her trauma. When she was hug her mom, she asked “are they coming to take me away again?”
Despite a federal judge’s reunification deadline, other children kidnapped from families at the border continue to remain in U.S. custody, some because their parents were so carelessly deported by officials they have no idea of their current whereabouts. In fact, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has had to navigate “treacherous roads, distrustful communities and remote villages” in search of some parents. Donald Trump’s policy has created orphans.
Today, Tuesday, Dec. 18, marks 145 days since the judge’s deadline. Family separation remains a crisis.