“I can hardly wait for the day when I will wake up from this nightmare,” said Xiomara, 34, who spoke on condition that she be identified only by her first name because of security concerns.
One of her last acts of motherhood was to bathe and dress her daughter, after being told by border officials that Briselda, then 8, would be taken away. She said she watched helplessly as officials escorted Briselda to join a line of children, most of them crying, who were waiting to board a van bound for the airport.
For her daughter’s safety, Xiomara said she had preferred that Briselda remain in the United States with family rather than return to her in El Salvador. They are in regular contact over WhatsApp, she said, but the distance has taken an emotional toll, and Xiomara has battled depression and recently started seeing a therapist.
Others continue to suffer repercussions despite being reunited.
Fifteen days passed before Oscar, an immigrant from Honduras who was locked up in McAllen, Texas, heard from his son, Daniel, then 8, from whom he had been separated.
“I felt mad. I was going crazy,” recalled Oscar, 35, who spoke on condition that he be identified only by his middle name.
On a tearful call, his son told him he was staying in a shelter in Houston. Father and son were reunited after 33 days, thanks to a judge’s order, and they moved to Charlotte, N.C.
Since then, Oscar has been grappling with how to help his son, whom he described as “not the same boy since we were separated.” Daniel runs away whenever he sees someone in police uniform and wakes up screaming at night, Oscar said.