Unexpected outcome

Not all reunions of migrant parents and children separated at border have been happy, report says

Milka Pablo, left, holds her daughter Darly Coronado, 3, while Mirce Alva Lopez holds her son Adan, 3, as they wait for a bus soon after being reunited with their children after months apart, at the bus station in Phoenix, Ariz., July 10, 2018. (Victor J. Blue/The New York Times)

In the recent weeks since President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month to end the separation of migrant families taken into custody after crossing the southern U.S. border, the spirits of many have been lifted by scenes of mothers being reunited with their children after taking legal action against the Trump administration. There was the woman from Guatemala who made a joyful reunion at an airport with her 7-year-old son, whom she hadn’t for more than a month. And, among many others, there was the woman from Brazil who regained custody of her 9-year-old son more than a month after they were separated by border officials. Smiles, hugs and tears of joy have been hallmarks of those occasions, as news cameras have documented.

But what about the parents who are being reunited with their toddler children? According to a report by The New York Times, those aren’t following such a cut-and-dry narrative of immediate joy. There is relief, of course, experienced by the mothers who are getting their young children back, but that is tempered with a sense of melancholy as some are finding that children under the age of 5 aren’t immediately recognizing their parents when they are reunited.

Mirce Alba Lopez, a 31-year-old mother who was reunited with her 3-year-old son Ederson in Phoenix on Tuesday, told The New York Times, “He didn’t recognize me.” The two had been apart for months after being separated at the border. “My joy turned temporarily to sadness.”

Brazilian migrants Lidia Karine Souza and her son, Diogo, were made a joyful reunion in Chicago in late June, but reunions of parents and much younger children haven’t all been so happy. (YouTube / The Associated Press)

Milka Pablo said she had a similar experience when she was reunited with 3-year-old daughter, Darly, in Phoenix. Pablo, 35, said Darly struggled to go back to the social worker who had been looking after her while Pablo had been separated from her. “I want Miss. I want Miss,” Darly said, crying, Pablo told the Times. The little girl had been potty trained the last time Pablo saw her, she said, but while away from her mother had gone back to wearing diapers.

As of Tuesday, federal officials were struggling to reunite migrant parents with their young children. Only about half of the 102 young children who had been separated from their parents at the border were reunited. The AFP reported that a judge on Tuesday extended the deadline, which had expired, by which the government must reunite all children who were separated from their parents during the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” crackdown on illegal immigration. The new deadline is July 26.

And it’s not just mothers who are experiencing sadness when they are reunited with little ones. The Times also spoke to the father of a 13-month-old girl whom he was reunited with after being separated for 20 days. But he and the girl’s mother told a heartbreaking story about how their baby acted when they finally got her back.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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