This Painful Reunion Of An Immigrant Woman And Her Son Who Doesn’t Recognize Her Is Too Heart-Wrenching To Watch
Several weeks have passed since the Trump administration formally decided to put an end to their “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separated parents from their children at the U.S.–Mexican border earlier this year. Still, recent stories of reunification reveal that in the cases where parents and their children are being brought together the trauma and challenges that stem from their initial separations are far from over.
In the latest video documenting the reunion between an immigrant mother and her child, it’s obvious the trauma of the separation policy has left a mark.
Earlier this week, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a video of a Honduran woman, identified only by the last name Reyes-Mejia, meeting her 3-year-old son at the George Bush International Airport in Houston after they were separated from each other for three-and-a-half months. The video follows the mother as she attempts to embrace and connect with her son for the first time in months while he attempts to wiggle free from her and refuses to face her. “I’m your mommy,” she tells her son in Spanish as he crawls away.
Speaking to the ACLU about the suffering the family had experienced over the past few months, Reyes-Mejia said “I felt like I could no longer take anymore. My soul was destroyed… I didn’t know where he had gone or know if my son was alone in a cage without his father.” Later on she noted that while waiting for her husband to arrive with her son at the Texas airport she “counted the minutes until I saw him, and when they told me he was on his way over I felt like I wanted him here that second, my soul couldn’t take it, but I am happy with my son.”
Reyes-Mejia’s story comes on the heels of other tales of painful reunions.
A recent article published by The New York Times detailed the stories of two immigrant mothers who’d been separated from their children and relocated to Phoenix. Both women recalled having been separated from their children for several months and upon getting to reunite with their children sorely discovering that their children no longer recognized or knew who they were. One of the woman, Milka Pablo, was forced to hear her 3-year-old daughter attempt to move from her mother’s embrace all while screaming and crying for a social worker at the shelter where she was staying. Another mother, Mirce Alba Lopez, recalled how her 3-year-old son, Ederson, rejected her as soon as she attempted to embrace him. “He didn’t recognize me,” she said. “My joy turned temporarily to sadness.”
According to the ACLU, 528 immigrant children still remain in government custody as of August 23.
In hundreds of cases, the government has already deported parents without plans to locate or reunite them with their children. In other cases, the government has determined that their children are “ineligible” for reunification. For families that have been reunited, experts say the trauma that comes with the separations could affect the children for years, and in some cases possibly even for the rest of their lives. According to mental health experts, the separated children are at risk for facing challenges such as trauma, trust issues, anxiety as well as other mental health concerns.
Watch the moment Reyes-Mejia reunites with her son below.
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