A federal judge in Chicago ordered the immediate release of a young boy from Brazil being held in an immigrant detention center on Thursday. The judge’s order came after a 27-year-old Brazilian mother seeking asylum in the U.S. sued the Trump administration to demand the release of her 9-year-old son, whom she had not seen for more than a month after being separated by border officials.
The mother and son, Lidia Karine Souza and Diogo, made a joyful reunion in Chicago on Thursday and met with reporters to talk about their experience. A lawyer for Souza said she hoped the ruling would set the stage for more reunions of separated migrant parents and children. Souza had some advice for others facing a similar situation. “Don’t give up, be persistent,” she said.
Diogo also spoke with reporters, through a translator, and talked about missing his mom while the two were kept apart. “I cried almost every day I wasn’t with my mother,” he said, according to The Associated Press.
Souza, who until recently had never spent more than a week away from her son, Diogo, told the AP that after the two were separated at the border in late May she had no idea where immigration authorities had taken her Diogo. Following her release on June 9 from a Texas facility, she filled out roughly 40 pages of documents that she was told were necessary for her to regain custody of her son — only to be informed when she finished that another rule change now required her to get fingerprints from any family members living in the U.S. along with documents such as utility bills and lease information that many recently arrived immigrants are unlikely to possess.
Thursday’s decision followed the ruling of another federal judge who ordered the Trump administration to reunite more than 2,000 children with their families after immigration officials separated them under the so-called “zero tolerance” policy. The government has been given 30 days to return the children, but a lawyer representing Souza said that they still plan to continue their suit against the government because it was difficult “to trust” that the Trump administration would heed the federal judge’s ruling.
Ever since Souza discovered the location of her child — thanks to another detained mother who told her that her own child knew a boy named Diogo in a Chicago shelter — she says she’s only been allowed to speak to him for a maximum of 20 minutes a week. She was allowed to visit her son for the first time since May on Tuesday. The two were permitted to spend an hour together before she was forced to leave.
“He cried a lot when the time came to say goodbye,” Souza said. “He thought we would be taking him home.”
Speaking with the AP, many other parents separated from their children spoke about the significant bureaucratic obstacles being used to prevent their children’s release — including mothers who were deported back to their home countries even as their children were forced to remain in detention facilities in the U.S.
Watch video of Souza’s plight below.
Read the full story at The Associated Press.