Earlier this month, Gabriela Hernandez and her two young children were among the first from the so-called “caravan” of Central American families to be able to petition for asylum at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. “She and her boys were held for four days … then flown to Texas where they spent eight days in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility,” CNN reports. The day after Mother’s Day, Hernandez, who is pregnant with her third child, reunited with an aunt in Anaheim:
They hug and kiss. It quickly becomes a group hug as Hernandez’s older son Omar joins in the embrace. Two-year-old Jonathan watches, a bit more hesitant to participate.
The aunt notices and kneels down with her arms wide open toward the toddler. He hesitates for only a second, then jumps into her arms and kisses her cheek.
It’s the day after Omar’s seventh birthday, the day after Mothers’ Day and there’s a family reunion. But the celebration is for so much more than any of that. Hernandez is relieved to finally be in Los Angeles and to have a home once again, even though it may be temporary.
The family had traveled 3,000 miles from Honduras to the U.S.—escaping Hernandez’s abusive husband—only to be blocked by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents from asking for asylum, in direct violation of U.S. law. Agents finally retreated, allowing a small group to go forward, including Hernandez. “Then on Saturday night, Hernandez was asked to sign a document that she would check in with immigration officials and present herself before a judge next week. Officials put an ankle monitor on her, but then removed it”:
“They took it off immediately when they realized I was pregnant,” she says. And with that, she was released from the Karnes County Residential Center, southeast of San Antonio.
Immigration officers took her and her sons to a bus station. She didn’t have any money. A woman handed her a blanket, sandwiches for the kids and a piece of paper. The document explained in English that Gabriela only speaks Spanish and needs help with the itinerary that listed four bus routes beginning in El Paso and ending in Anaheim a day later.
“I found a lot of people who spoke Spanish and helped me,” Hernandez recalls.
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