Reunion of tears after mother sees photo of her daughter at US border

Austin, Texas (AP) — Six years have passed since Glenda Valdez said goodbye to his toddler and left for the United States. It’s been six years since she held Emely in her arms.

But here she was crying and hugging the girl she left behind at Austin Bergstrom International Airport in Texas. It happened because she glanced at Emery’s photo on television. This is part of an Associated Press article about a young man crossing the Mexican border alone.

“I love you,” whispered in Spanish in the ear of her 9-year-old daughter. “Thank God”

It was a fairy-tale ending to a complex story that began in Honduras and began with an unfortunate relationship, according to 26-year-old Valdes.

According to her, Emery’s father was absent and did not feed them. When Valdes emigrated in search of a better life, the girl was left in custody of Valdes’ mother. However, Emery’s father regained her.

Valdez said contact with her daughter was only sporadic. The father wanted his daughters not to speak regularly. Valdez received frequent video calls. Eventually, Emery told her she had a new stepmother who wasn’t kind.

Emery told her that her father, who knew she was dissatisfied with life in the family, decided to kick her out without telling her where she was. He took care of her as an adult and helped her travel to the US-Mexico border for several weeks.

Around midnight, when the day changed to May 13, border guard agents encountered Emery in La Joya, Texas. She was walking in the bush for six hours with strangers, losing her shoes in the mud. She was sobbing uncontrollably.

“I was thirsty, I didn’t have anything to drink, I didn’t want to drink, I didn’t know where to go,” Emery said in Spanish on Sunday.

When the agent found her, she said she had lost her mother’s number and didn’t even know where she lived. Desperately, she told reporters details that could identify her mother. And she has a lip ring. “

Her mother was waiting for her, she said. But Valdes said on Sunday she didn’t know her child was sent to cross the border.

Valdes was watching a Univision news program at his Austin home on the afternoon of May, seeing a picture of Emery in a red hoodie. She quickly realized that it was her daughter. Desperately, she immediately began calling US authorities, networks, and refugee agencies.

“Honestly, I was shocked. Imagine watching TV and suddenly seeing your daughter,” Valdes said. “And when I saw her crying, everything she said smashed my heart.”

Emery said she was taken to a group home. But Valdes didn’t know that, and for weeks she said she had only vague answers to her petition for information. Please be patient, she was told.

“I was just traumatized, like I was crying for days, watching her video, watching her pictures, crying, crying, crying, and spending days,” Valdes said. Told.

I got a call to her last Wednesday. Emery was in a government shelter. They will meet again soon. And on Saturday, she was told to meet her daughter at the airport the next day. At the scheduled time, she ran down the stairs in the crowded arrival terminal and hugged her.

Emery is part of a significant increase in the number of children traveling alone from Mexico to the United States, reaching approximately 19,000 in March (a record high) and approximately 17,200 in April (second most). I am. One in three unaccompanied children is from Honduras on the border, second only to Guatemala.

The US Department of Health and Human Services aims to place unaccompanied children in the “less restrictive environment” possible, based on federal law and decades of court settlements. USA. It took an average of 35 days to leave the children at home at the end of May. Emery reunited with her mother 10 days less than that.

Children are usually released when the judge is instructed to appear in the Immigration Court, which decides the asylum claim. The decision can take years — the court system has 1.3 million outstanding proceedings.

While Emery was waiting for a court date, the girl moved with Valdes, her husband and two daughters. They are excited to know this new sister, whom they have only met in virtual.

And to Valdes’ immense satisfaction, she reunites with the girl who said goodbye six years ago.

“Well, the plan is God wants to be with her here,” Valdes said.

“Don’t be separated. Ask God to never be separated. To give her all the love I couldn’t give her. Everything she lacks. I can. Give her everything and take her to school. She has a better future to improve what happened. “


Acacia Coronado is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that assigns journalists to local media outlets to report on unreported issues.

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