Mom says son feels 'abandoned' after separation

Parents break down describing the separation and detention of their children after crossing the US-Mexico border.

Posted: Jun 26, 2018 6:15 PM
Updated: Jun 26, 2018 6:17 PM

Miriam says she didn't have a chance to say a word to her 4-year-old son before he was taken from her at the US-Mexico border.

It was dawn and he was fast asleep, she said. They were detained the night before in El Paso, Texas. The moment someone told her to dress him was when she learned they were going to be separated. He was still asleep when they put him on a truck and drove away, she said.

When she was finally able to reach him Monday by phone in New York, she says he refused to speak to her. CNN was unable to confirm how much time had passed since their separation. But as Miriam tells it, it was long enough to make an impression on him.

"He's mad at me," she said, tears in her eyes. "He thinks that I abandoned him."

After arresting Miriam and separating her from her son, the government withdrew charges against her and released her from detention, according to an El Paso advocacy group that's helping reunite families.

Annunciation House said it interviewed 32 people, including Miriam, whose charges were withdrawn. They were released from detention with ankle monitors while they await immigration proceedings.

Legal coordinator Taylor Levy released details about the 32 adults the organization interviewed:

34 -- Average age of parent

10 -- Average age of child

25 -- Average days in detention

The longest stay was 40 days. The shortest was nine days.

3 -- The number of parents who have personally spoken to their children since separation

29 -- The number of parents who have not personally spoken to their children since separation

They came from three countries: El Salvador (6%), Guatemala (31%), Honduras (63%).

Five of those people, including Miriam, shared their accounts in a Monday news conference organized by the faith-based charity.

Their releases came after President Donald Trump signed an order to keep families together while maintaining a "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal entry prosecutions. The order led federal prosecutors to announce they would not pursue charges in cases involving families that could not be housed together.

The adults, identified by their first names only, may no longer face criminal charges for the time being. But they said the experience has already left lasting emotional and psychological scars on them and their children.

Two of the men used the Spanish word "dañado" to describe their feelings -- damaged, broken or hurt.

"I am so dañado for what has happened to me that it is hard for me to say anything," Melvin said. It's been a month since he last heard from or spoke to his 17-year-old son, he said.

'If we were criminals, we wouldn't carry our children with us'

Iris said it took 15 days for her to make it to the border with her son from Honduras. When she arrived, she said the first thing she was told was that she was going to be arrested and face charges.

"You are considered a criminal to the United States," she said she was told.

It was her son's sixth birthday, she said. He was with her when she learned the news. She believes he started to cry because he knew what would come next.

"We are not criminals; we are just people who want an opportunity for a better life," she said. "If we were criminals, we wouldn't carry our children with us."

She was one of two parents at the news conference who said they asked if there was anything they could do to avoid being separated from their children. Asked if they were offered the option of voluntary deportation, at least three of the adults said no.

In fact, when Iris asked if she and her child could be deported together she said she was told no.

She would go to jail and her son would go to a shelter. She could do it the easy way or the hard way, she said she was told.

She said her son is in Arizona, but she doesn't know where. She has not been able to talk to him, she said.

"My message to the President for now is, 'I hope that God forgives you for what you have done to all the parents. This is very cruel.' "

'I came to this country in search of a better future'

Mario said his daughter turned 10 Monday and he had hoped to call her for her birthday. But he has been unable to reach her through the phone number authorities provided him.

"I am more than dañado because, to be honest, I don't know anything about my daughter," he said.

He appeared before reporters Monday with a plea for help:

"They gave us a number to call to get in touch with our children, but we keep calling and no one answers. I want to take the opportunity to ask the people in charge to please contact us to let us know where our children are."

He, too, said he was shocked to learn upon arriving from Honduras that he would be arrested. His daughter cried and begged to stay with him, he said. He asked the officers why they would arrest him for trying to protect her and offer her a better future.

"I told them that they shouldn't separate me from her because I came to this country in search of a better future," he said.

'Dad, you're going to jail and I'm going I don't know where'

Christian could barely speak of his 5-year-old daughter without breaking down. He said he came from Honduras in search of a better life for her.

When officials separated them, the little girl tried to comfort her father by telling him she wouldn't be mad at him. But she also said something else that made him tear up in front of the cameras.

"Dad, you're going to jail and I'm going I don't know where," he said, quoting his daughter.

She's in Chicago now, he said, and he has spoken to her on the phone. She still maintains an understanding outlook for the future, he said.

"She said as long as we could be together, she would be happy."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 157713

Reported Deaths: 4092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion25392789
Lake13805355
St. Joseph9277163
Elkhart8890135
Allen8278230
Hamilton6215113
Vanderburgh588261
Tippecanoe375915
Hendricks3302133
Monroe326638
Porter322049
Johnson3151129
Delaware297074
Clark296762
Vigo264840
Madison240595
LaPorte226658
Cass225522
Warrick195265
Kosciusko187826
Floyd180167
Howard164066
Bartholomew143358
Marshall140026
Dubois139626
Wayne132130
Henry128430
Grant127839
Boone124550
Hancock119944
Noble117434
Jackson114416
Dearborn98028
Morgan94840
Lawrence90837
Daviess89334
Gibson88612
Clinton86716
Shelby83531
LaGrange81015
Knox77410
Harrison77324
Putnam73716
Posey7236
DeKalb72011
Fayette69018
Steuben6338
Miami6305
Jasper6175
White59215
Montgomery59022
Greene55337
Scott52413
Decatur50739
Adams5027
Whitley4636
Clay4537
Ripley4538
Sullivan44414
Wells43511
Wabash4219
Starke4157
Orange40925
Huntington4015
Spencer3956
Washington3783
Franklin37625
Jennings36913
Fulton3653
Randolph3659
Jefferson3435
Pike33518
Carroll32913
Perry32614
Jay3116
Fountain3073
Tipton27823
Vermillion2531
Parke2374
Newton23011
Blackford2193
Rush2184
Owen2071
Martin2000
Crawford1591
Pulaski1562
Brown1433
Ohio1327
Benton1120
Union1110
Switzerland960
Warren841
Unassigned0234

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 192948

Reported Deaths: 5184
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin31703640
Cuyahoga19906684
Hamilton16878344
Montgomery10546189
Butler8401130
Lucas8364373
Summit6780265
Warren428466
Stark3853182
Mahoning3739287
Marion341250
Pickaway302446
Delaware290627
Lorain275489
Fairfield268657
Licking262366
Clark253057
Wood252981
Clermont251238
Greene234542
Trumbull2290134
Allen218373
Columbiana213387
Miami202858
Lake196659
Medina188942
Portage165468
Mercer154728
Wayne144669
Ross141537
Richland135124
Tuscarawas130825
Athens12352
Erie116953
Darke115551
Hancock106626
Madison106315
Auglaize102316
Putnam101627
Lawrence94525
Shelby91714
Muskingum9044
Scioto8719
Geauga86950
Belmont78927
Union7703
Ashtabula73548
Sandusky71722
Huron71614
Preble63518
Holmes63310
Seneca60714
Ottawa58930
Fulton54513
Henry48817
Jefferson4774
Clinton47213
Jackson4728
Crawford4688
Defiance46613
Fayette4528
Highland4446
Logan4353
Ashland4109
Champaign4053
Knox39416
Brown3883
Perry37311
Morrow3562
Washington35524
Hardin34813
Williams3464
Guernsey3298
Coshocton32412
Pike3120
Wyandot29813
Gallia29213
Van Wert2685
Carroll2157
Adams2126
Meigs21012
Paulding2072
Hocking1999
Monroe16318
Noble1480
Vinton1043
Harrison843
Morgan800
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 36°
Angola
34° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 34°
Huntington
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 32°
Decatur
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 36°
Van Wert
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 36°
Cooler Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events