Jose Eduardo said that the last time he saw his daughter Yaimy, “she was standing in a frigid border patrol holding cell.” When he returned from immigration court, she was gone. “Where is my daughter?” he cried to immigration officials. They lied to him, saying, “We don’t know.” In reality, they had stolen her under the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy. The two would be apart for nearly a year.
That ended earlier this month, when Jose Eduardo and Yaimy were reunited in Texas. He had been among the 29 parents who returned to the southern border after being unjustly deported by the Trump administration, as part of an effort to reunite with their children. Some of these parents have been apart from their kids as long as 14 months.
Jose Eduardo and Yaimy’s separation lasted for 10 months. While she’s spent the bulk of that time living with a relative’s family, she spent three months in a children’s detention facility. “Lots of girls offered to be my family, but that’s not what I wanted,” she said. “I wanted my papa. I didn’t know what to do. I passed the time crying.”
Since being released, Yaimy has “been going to school, taking English classes, attending church, and playing with four rambunctious cousins.” In other words, being a kid. Now her life is changing yet again, but this time for the better: A family in Seattle, hearing about their story on Facebook, have opened their home to her and her dad.
“When we first heard the news of the family separations taking place at the border, we were absolutely sickened by it,” Sarah Riggio told NPR. “Having five children of our own, I cannot imagine being separated from one of my children. We felt that our faith compelled us to open up our home to do whatever possible to help the families that were separated at the border.”
“We’re very happy because they’re beautiful people, with good hearts,” Jose Eduardo said. “I believe God brought us all together.” Another set of parents from the group of 29 have also been reunited with their child. But months after a federal judge’s reunification deadline, most kids separated under zero tolerance remain in U.S. custody. Family separation remains a crisis.