EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Two children are reunited with their mother after being separated at the border under the Trump-era “zero tolerance” policy.
The El Paso-based Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center said the two teenage boys got the surprise of a lifetime on Tuesday night: Their mother, whom they had been separated from since September 2017, surprised them at a family gathering in Philadelphia.
Her family, including her two sons, believed they were brought together to record a video pleading with the Biden administration to allow her to into the country.
“The children were getting ready to do an appeal video to Biden almost asking to let her come home. So they were going to be ready with signs and balloons, saying, ‘We’re ready for our mom,’ and that was the moment when she would come in,” Linda Rivas, exective director of Las Americas, told KTSM.
The agency released a video of the emotional reunification. A camera follows the mother into an apartment, where the unsuspecting relatives erupt with joy.
“Tuesday night, for the first time in three and a half years, two children were able to get a kiss goodnight from their mother after the U.S. government ripped them apart from the most important person in their lives,” Linda Corchado, Director of Legal Services at Las Americas and counsel for the reunited mother, said in a statement.
Their journey began in Honduras when the mother and her two boys fled violence and direct threats to their lives. Her sons were 13 and 15 at the time.
When they were apprehended at the border, the mother was separated from her boys under the Trump administration’s family separation program that was being piloted in El Paso.
Both boys were kept in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility and then transferred to a shelter. They were ultimately reunited with extended family, but their mother was held in an ICE detention facility for nearly two years before being deported back to Honduras in 2019.
The Biden administration said Monday that four families that were separated at the Mexico border during Donald Trump’s presidency will be reunited in the United States this week in what Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas calls “just the beginning” of a broader effort.
“Children flee persecution every day around the world, and our country is capable of honoring our asylum laws and respecting the dignity of families. On Tuesday, we saw the power of a mother’s love. Let this be the example for the change we fight for every single day,” Corchado said.