Undocumented family reunited

An eight-year-old Guatemalan boy was one of the first undocumented children to be reunited with his parents at the border. Video of the reunion was posted to Twitter on Monday.

The boy, Franklin, was separated from his parents at the United States border. The policy of family separation employed by the Trump administration over helped fuel the construction of a detention camp near El Paso to house undocumented children. A massive public backlash and court order to reunite families followed.

But the Trump Administration failed to reunite a lot of those families and has plans to not only continue operating their detention camp, but expand it. Hundreds of children remain separated from their families. Many of their parents were already deported, their children left behind.

“Some children were waiting for their parents and the parents weren’t there and some parents were there and the children weren’t there,” Veronica, a Guatemalan mother waiting for her son told the El Paso Times.

Her son didn’t arrive that day. She was told she would have to wait for the weekend. But for Franklin and undocumented kids like him, the nightmare is over.

Some stories have brighter endings, like the story of 11-year-old José and his 7-year-old sister Mayda, who both spent 51 days separated from their mother over the summer. While the family doesn’t know if they’ll have to return to Guatemala, they are, for now, starting a new life together in Oregon.

Antonio and his mother Morena Mendoza were reunited in Miami after prosecutors dismissed Mendoza’s case. Their asylum case is going forward. Antonio had feared, during their separation, that he would be given to another family and never see his mother again.

Family reunification is just the first step in a process of getting lives back together. Children like Antonio, José, Mayda and Franklin don’t just have the status of their parents to sort out, but also their own trauma from separation.

“When they arrive, they may gain the better education, healthcare and resources they’ve waited decades to access, but they live each day with new threats such as having their green cards revoked and being deported,” says Aimee Hilado, senior manager for the wellness program at Chicago’s RefugeeOne.

“When children are spending so much energy managing intense emotions and trying to appear okay, they’re not setting themselves up to be ready to learn and absorb any new information. They may get stuck in that tough, emotional place.”

For these undocumented kids, that reunion isn’t the end of their journey, just the end of walking it alone.

 

Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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