News Americas, Boston, MA, Thurs. July 19, 2018: While thousands of mainly Latin American children remain separated from their parents under the Donald Trump harsh zero tolerance policy, a 9-year-old South American boy and his mother, who were forcibly separated under the policy, have been reunited after 45 days.
The Brazilian mother and child were reunited after an emergency hearing in federal court. The mother, who is only listed in court documents as W.R., fled Brazil with her son, listed as A.R., to rid herself of domestic abuse by her husband, whom she said trafficked drugs and consumed both alcohol and drugs.
“He beat me, causing bruises, bleeding, and pain to many parts of my body. He also beat and burned my son, A.R.,” W.R. states in a court affidavit. On more than one occasion, he threatened me with his gun. On more than one occasion, he threatened my son and me with a knife. I have been trying to get a divorce in Brazil for the past six years, however my husband would not allow me to do so.”
She came to the U.S. seeking asylum at the border, but under the Trump policy at the time, her son was taken away from her by border agents and sent to a Texas facility.
The federal government then reportedly created a maze of bureaucratic and legal hurdles to keep them separated, including not telling the mother his whereabouts or immigration case number.
The government also reportedly probed her religious beliefs and practices; she was fingerprinted along with every other person in the Boston home she is staying with her brother, sister-in-law and nephews; and a home visit was conducted to determine if she was fit to parent her child.
The Lawyers’ Committee and pro bono attorneys from WilmerHale took on the case and helped her navigate a veritable legal labyrinth in a Boston courtroom.
The sustained advocacy resulted in the reunification of the child and his mom at Logan Airport on Saturday, July 14th.
“Words cannot describe the emotions I am feeling. I feel like I am born again. I am overjoyed. I should have never been separated from my son,” said W.R. recently at a press conference at the Brazilian Worker Center. “Family unity is sacred. I prayed hoping for justice. I want to put this nightmare behind me. I want to focus on creating a safe and nurturing home for my traumatized son. I am happy to see that justice was ultimately done, but I still worry about all the children and mothers who don’t have access to lawyers. Who is helping and uniting them?”
“The government failed to present a single factual or legal basis for the initial separation let alone its refusal to reunite the family it illegally broke,” added Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee and counsel for the mother and son. “This is a deliberate government campaign to intimidate and punish immigrants. The Trump Administration is illegally seeking to defeat the viable asylum claims of immigrant parents by encouraging their self-deportation to be reunited with their children.”