A Guatemalan mother finally reunited with her daughter at a Florida airport four years after they were separated at the southwestern border.
María Chic, 32, and Adelaida Chic, 10, were among the 1,768 families who were separated in 2017 by the administration of former President Donald Trump for unlawfully crossing the United States-Mexico border before the ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on illegal migration went into effect in April 2018, according to Telemundo.
María made it across the border with her child and her sister, Patricia Chic, before they were detained by the U.S. Border Patrol agent. She recalled an agent pulling her daughter by the shirt and instructing them that they had go before sharing a hug.
Adelaida was eventually transferred from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) holding center to a shelter in New York.
María was held for seven months at the Eloy Detention Center in Eloy, Arizona and then deported her and her sister back to Guatemala.
Guatemala natives Adelaida Chic (left) and her mother María Chic (right) were recently reunited after spending four years apart following their arrest for unlawfully crossing the United States-Mexico in the summer of 2017. They were among the 1,768 families who were separated that year by the administration of former President Donald Trump before the ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on illegal migration went into effect in April 2018, according to Telemundo
María Chic (right) hug her 10-year-old daughter, who she had not seen in four years, at an airport in Florida
María remembered one of the very first video conference calls that she had with her upset daughter who asked, ‘Mommy, why did you leave me here?’
The Office of Refugee Resettlement later awarded the custody of Adelaida to her aunt in Florida, where she has been attending school.
The pain of being away from her daughter forced María to attempt to cross the border two more times, but she was expelled on both occasions.
The Seattle time reported that during an August 2017 meeting to request asylum, the Guatemalan mother told the U.S. immigration interpreter, ‘I hope you or the officer can give me the opportunity to stay here with my daughter. I don’t want to return to the things that happened in Guatemala.’
She learned last month that she had been granted permission to come to the United States and reunite with her child thanks to the help of non-profit civil groups who provide assistance to families who have been split at the border.
As of June 8, the administration of President Joe Biden had identified more than 3,900 children who were separated from their parents at the southern border under Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy.
Adelaida Chic spent time at a shelter for children in New York before the Office of Refugee Resettlement placed her in the custody of her aunt in Florida, where she attended school
María Chic (inset) told Telemundo that her daughter, Adelaida Chic (main), was upset about having been separated after they were stopped by the U.S. Border Patrol for illegally crossing the United States-Mexico border in 2017. The child asked her mother, ‘Mommy, why did you leave me here?’
According to the Family Reunification Task Force, there were 3,913 children who were separated from July 1, 2017 until the end of Trump’s presidency. The totals, however, fall short of more than 5,500 who have been identified in court by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Most of the children who were separated have been identified, but the task force has to review another 1,723 cases since July 2017, which would bring total cases examined to 5,636, close to the ACLU tally.
The discrepancy appears to stem largely from a federal court ruling in San Diego that excluded 1,723 children who were separated for reasons other than Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, such as risk of child endangerment or questions about parentage.
This chart shows how 2021 border crossings – pictured in blue – rocketed on crossings made in 2020, represented by the brown line (2018 is pictured in gray, with 2019 in orange)
The Family Reunification Task Force will also try to determine if children were separated during the first six months of Trump’s presidency, starting in January 2017, which was outside the scope of the ACLU lawsuit. That could raise the final number.
Of the 3,913 children, 1,786 have been reunified with a parent, mostly during Trump’s tenure, parents of another 1,695 have been contacted and the whereabouts of 391 have not been established. Many who have been contacted were released to other family members.
President Biden promised to reunite parents who are still apart from their children, but the pace has been slow and it is unclear how high that number will go.
The first four parents were returned to the United States last month, part of what the task force identified as an initial group of 62 people — 28 from Guatemala, 20 from Honduras, 13 from El Salvador and one from Mexico.
Administration officials say 29 of the 62 have received final clearances to return to the United States, which should occur after travel arrangements are made.
A CBP monthly report released June 10 showed that Border Patrol agents stopped 180,034 migrants in May along the southwestern border, a slight increase from 178,854 the prior month, with the increase driven largely by single adults.
From March to May more than 530,000 people were apprehended and pushed back into Mexico after attempting to cross without legal immigration documents.