2.5 Years Later, One Of The First Families Separated At Border Is Still Apart

Darren.Woon

The Trump administration failed to include actual numbers of separated families to Congress and the courts.

Adelaida Reynoso and her mother, Maria, were one of the first migrant families separated by the Trump administration before the government announced it was separating parents from their children at the border. Nearly two-and-a-half years later, they remain separated, according to The Washington Post

Adelaida is now 9, a third-grader in southwest Florida and one of the top students in her class. Maria, 31, watches her daughter grow up behind the screen of a cell phone from rural Guatemala. 

The Trump administration acknowledged that nearly 3,000 children had been separated from their parents in 2018. Parents were either detained or deported while the children were sent to foster care or to family members in the United States.

A court ordered the government to reunite them and the American Civil Liberties Union and other lawyers reunited most. 

But the actual numbers of separated families were not included in reports to Congress. Officials gave lawyers Excel spreadsheets that identified 1,556 earlier cases of separation, above the 3,000 previously acknowledged. 

Maria tried three times to cross the border, and was deported time and time again by immigration agents. 

She kept a copy of the transcript of her interview with an asylum officer on Aug. 16, 2017. “I hope you or the officer can give me the opportunity to stay here with my daughter,” she told the interpreter. “I don’t want to return to the things that happened in Guatemala.”

“This is a group who the government kept hidden from us, the court, Congress, and the public,” said Lee Gelernt, an ACLU attorney. “And these children were even younger than the original group, hundreds just babies and toddlers.”

“I need you by my side,” Adelaida told her mother last month.

“I know,” Maria said, having run out of responses.

Adelaida paused. “I remember less and less about Guatemala. When I left, I was small. And sometimes it’s hard to think about what happened.”

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