9 Guatemalan children reunited with parents after US separation
Nine Guatemalan children separated from their parents at the U.S. border under Trump’s immigration policy were reunited with their deported families on Tuesday .
Iranpress/America :The U.S. government flew 6-year-old Leo Jeancarlo DeLeon to Guatemala on Tuesday, reuniting him with his mother two months to the day after she was deported without him and nearly three months after separating the mother and son at the border under Trump's zero-tolerance policy.
The boy's reunion with his mother, Lourdes Marianela DeLeon, took place at a shelter in the heart of the Guatemalan capital.
Leo arrived in a white van with four other children. Wearing a blue Tommy Hilfiger ball cap and a Spider-Man T-shirt, he appeared to smile as he emerged from the vehicle, where he and the others were greeted by about 30 members of the media from around the world.
Lourdes, who described their separation as "three months of torture," had traveled all night by car from her home town of San Pablo, 200 miles away, near the border with Mexico. In a brief interview, she said she had spoken to Leo on Monday and that he had said he was "happy because in only a few more hours we will see each other."
As they were reunited inside the shelter Tuesday, Lourdes said Leo's first words to her were, "I love you."
About 2:30 p.m., Lourdes and Leo emerged from the shelter, through a large wooden door, and onto the street where they were cornered by cameras and microphones.
"I really missed my mama," Leo told reporters. "I feel fine now, but when they separated us I felt sad."
"He says they treated him very well," Lourdes said of his time in U.S. migrant shelters.
Leo was among the first nine Guatemalan children reunited with their deported parents, after being separated at the border by U.S. immigration authorities, said Anaeli Torres, head of the migrant department for the Secretary of Social Welfare, a federal agency.
The reunification marked the end of an ordeal that began when Lourdes and Leo crossed the border illegally together on May 10 near San Luis, Arizona, and were quickly apprehended by the Border Patrol.
Lourdes arrived thinking she and her son would be detained briefly and allowed to continue on their way into the interior of the U.S., where she hoped to start a new life with relatives living in New Jersey.
Instead, Leo was taken from her two days later and shipped to New York City. There he was placed in a program with several other children who had been taken from their parents under the zero-tolerance policy.
Meanwhile, Lourdes remained in Arizona, at a detention facility in the remote desert near Eloy, an hour south of Phoenix, until she was deported on June 7 without Leo.
About 95 percent of the children who remain in U.S. custody after their parents were deported are from Guatemala and Honduras, according to court filings.
In court filings, the ACLU said there are about 120 deported parents for which the government hasn't been able to provide viable information about where they live.
video from APTN