Monday, June 17, 2024

Guatemalan mother reunites with her son after he was taken away at the border

The mother rushed toward her son the second he stepped off the jetway. Then she teared up.

“I love you,” she said in Spanish, between sobs.

In the waiting area of Gate C14 at Baltimore Washington International Airport, she wrapped a blanket around him, cradled his head in her arms and wept. It had been more than a month since Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia had seen her 7-year-old son, Darwin.

She said authorities separated them at an immigration holding facility in Arizona days after they crossed the US-Mexico border. This week, the 38-year-old Guatemalan mother sued several government agencies and top Trump administration officials, asking a federal judge to order authorities to release her son.

Lawyers announced in court Thursday that an agreement had been reached just minutes before a hearing. A few hours later, Darwin was released from a shelter in Phoenix, Arizona, and headed toward Washington, where his mother had traveled to make her case in federal court.

Mejia says she and her son came to the United States seeking asylum, fleeing death threats and domestic violence from her husband in Guatemala. They crossed the border May 19 near San Luis, Arizona, according to the lawsuit, and were immediately approached by Border Patrol agents and taken into custody.

Mejia’s lawsuit isn’t the only one challenging the Trump administration’s months-long practice of separating kids and parents at the border, but it appears to be the first filed by an individual since officials announced their controversial “zero tolerance” policy.

When speaking to reporters at the airport early Friday, Mejia said she was happy to have found her son after so many weeks of searching. She also had advice for parents in the same situation she faced.

“They can fight the same way I did,” Mejia said. “They have to fight to get out of there, to fight for their children.”