Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the government will meet Thursday’s deadline to reunite all eligible families separated along the border. Initially more than 2,500 children between the ages of 5 and 17 were separated from their parents. More than 500 adults are still waiting to be reunited, and another 463 parents may have been deported without their children and may never be reunited.
Albuquerque has become one of the hubs for immigrant family reunifications happening at shelters like the Lutheran Family Services. But over 900 children are still considered ineligible, so they will stay in the government’s custody past the deadline. Ineligible means the person they crossed the border with is not their parent or they have a criminal history, reports CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal.
Albuquerque’s departure terminal is where once-separated families are finding a fresh start. Romela Victoria Isaula and her son Geronimo are heading to their new home in Massachusetts after being separated for two months. Isaula recalled the moment she said her son was “torn” from her.
“We arrived at immigration and they screamed at me because I was crying over my son,” she said. “I didn’t know where they would take him. I didn’t know if they were going to treat him well.”
Isaula and Geronimo are just two of almost 1,200 immigrant families who have been brought back together under a federal court order.
In Baltimore, 7-year-old Andy couldn’t hold back his tears after seeing his mother Arely for the first time in nearly a month.
“The government hasn’t taken the proper steps to effectively deny these parents the right to their children,” Virginia-based attorney Sophia Gregg said. She represents Arely and Andy.
Like most families who have been reunited, the two will have to wait for their asylum case to be heard by a judge and they still face the risk of deportation.
“There’s also a large numbers of families or parents that the government has determined are ineligible to be reunited,” Gregg said.
The city is preparing to take in 300 families but they won’t stay long. The goal for the organizations is to get them on a plane and on to their final destination in less than 24 hours.
Image courtesy of CBS