December 22, 2019

‘It is beyond cruel’: Ice refuses to reunite girl with the only family she has left
María has been waiting to be paroled so she can be with her niece, who was sent to foster care 2,400 miles awayFor more than nine months, María, 23, has been waiting in an immigration detention center in Arizona hoping to reunite with the six-year-old niece she raised as a daughter. When the two asked for asylum at the border last March because they feared for their lives in Guatemala, border officials detained María in the Eloy detention center and sent the girl to foster care in New York, 2400 miles away.The Guardian first reported on the ongoing separation of this family in October. As the story spread, lawmakers and more than 200 clergy asked US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) to grant María parole so she can leave detention and reunite with the girl. A woman in New York volunteered to house them both while María awaits a decision on her appeal for asylum.But despite that public support, Ice denied María’s application for parole in mid-December.Parole was once the norm for arriving asylum seekers, but in recent years approvals have become increasingly rare. On a standardized form, Ice officers indicated María failed to prove she was “not a flight risk” or that her “continued detention was not in the public interest”.María said the denial was “depressing” because it prolongs her separation from the child. She has regular phone calls with her niece, who says she doesn’t want to be apart any more. “But I tell her she has to be patient, wait a little bit longer. Just like I’m doing it myself from here,” María said in Spanish during a phone call from detention on Thursday.“Why does Ice get to say what the public interest is?” said Suzannah Maclay, one of María’s pro bono attorneys. “It’s very clear what the public is interested in here. It’s helping these people and getting them back together.”An Ice spokeswoman emailed a statement reciting the facts of María’s case but did not answer why the agency denied parole.Six years ago, a gang in rural Guatemala murdered María’s last living relatives except her niece, who was a baby. María raised the child and is the only mother the girl has known. They fled toward the United States last Christmas after the gang murdered María’s partner and tried to shoot her.María’s case stands out because of the dozens of people who have tried to help.The support began when María and her niece first arrived at a shelter on the Mexican border and met American volunteers. They helped obtain copies of official birth and death certificates that prove her relatives were violently murdered and her relationship to the girl.At that time, a federal judge had halted the Trump administration’s policy of separating most families at the border nearly nine months earlier. Yet a US law aimed at protecting child migrants from traffickers requires border officials to separate arriving children from adults who cannot prove they are the child’s parents or legal guardians. Officials did not accept the documents María showed as proof of legal guardianship.Once María was detained, some of those volunteers from the shelter found her pro bono attorneys and located her niece in New York.“She would have totally lost track of her niece,” said Maclay. “But it was because the public stepped up and kept track of where the little girl went that they’re even in contact right now.”María’s supporters are calling on Ice to reverse course and grant her parole. A small crowd of state legislators, clergy and activists gathered on the state capitol on Thursday holding signs that read “Uncage & Reunite” and “Call ICE” with the agency’s local phone number.The Rev James Pennington of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Phoenix said by keeping the family apart, Ice is “causing further pain, trauma, mental, physical, spiritual health issues that will extend far beyond just this moment in time”.He added, “It is beyond cruel especially at this time of Christmas.”Anita, the New York woman who has volunteered to house María and her niece, said she has already sent them photos of the family. “I told her we’re all waiting for her,” said Anita, who asked for her last name to be withheld to protect María’s safety if she is released.“We’re so anxious to have a good resolution for this case, but at the same time painfully aware that there are so many other people that don’t have this kind of support,” she said.When the Guardian first wrote about María, she asked to be called Alexa for fear of reprisal. But she has since chosen to use her real first name in the press as a growing number of supporters are calling on Ice to release her.After a federal judge in 2018 ordered most family separations to end, attorneys have been scrambling to reunite families. There are currently about 5,500 known cases of children separated from parents during the Trump administration. But no one has tracked how many children have been split from non-parent relatives, nor is there a formal mechanism for those families to reunify.The logistics of how and when María will see her niece again if she is not paroled are unclear. María’s asylum appeal could take up to two years. Sean Wellock, another pro bono attorney representing her, said if María were to lose her appeal, the government would be under no obligation to coordinate a reunion in Guatemala with her niece if they are deported separately.The girl could lag behind María by days, weeks or months.Christie Turner-Herbas, an attorney specializing in reunifying migrant families at Kids in Need of Defense, said when a child is deported alone, US government agencies do not always communicate clearly about the child’s travel.“There have been complications like a child is leaving and we never get any notice,” Turner-Herbas said. “And then we find out, you know, get a panicked call from the family saying that they heard the child is coming in, but they’re not able to get [to the airport] in time.”María says her days in detention are monotonous until someone visits or she receives a letter. While she says the government has denied all her requests, she still doesn’t “feel abandoned”.“I have the support of lots of people,” she said. “I’m not alone”.
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Russo-Ukrainian War

The Russo-Ukrainian War has been ongoing between Russia and Ukraine since February 2014.

Russia's war in Ukraine has proven almost every assumption wrong, with Europe now wondering what left is safe to assume.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Madonna’s most bizarre TikTok and Instagram videos of 2022 | Page Six Celebrity News
December 30, 2022
Ggk_RlohXuI
Teresa Giudice and Luis Ruelas stand by sex multiple times a day: It’s ‘normal’ | Page Six
December 30, 2022
AljKbtgRGnc
Lisa Hochstein shared video confronting Lenny Hochstein & girlfriend at Miami club #shorts | PageSix
December 30, 2022
j_JVk60r6EI
'Channel 5' Creator Andrew Callaghan Talks BTS of 'This Place Rules' Documentary Feature
December 30, 2022
dJit_YG5fjg
#brendanfraser on getting jacked to play 'George of the Jungle' after 'Airheads" with #adamsandler
December 30, 2022
bkwreE4eMRQ
Selena Gomez, Ryan Gosling and Julia Fox Top the List Of Variety's Best Red Carpet Moments Of 2022
December 29, 2022
pv2A-331cLg
Wiz Khalifa Joins Neek Bucks For Upcoming 'Shot Caller' Video | TMZ
December 26, 2022
TxkRr1jj-gk
Andrew Zimmern Says TikTok Recipes Need to Stop This Holiday Season | TMZ
December 26, 2022
DdlO88KfJoY
Top 7 WTF Moments of 2022 | TMZ
December 26, 2022
3JA-5abr6A4
Most HIGHLY ANTICIPATED Movies of 2023 | E! News
January 01, 2023
3-1K1VSRjys
22 Pop Culture Moments That Defined 2022: Link in Comments! #shorts | E! News
December 31, 2022
MNnChuudoSA
Suspect Charged With Murder in Idaho College Killings | E! News
December 31, 2022
aeonRlI5xL0
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Aston Villa
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Nottingham Forest - Chelsea
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Coventry - Bristol City
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - Cardiff City
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Millwall - Rotherham
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackpool - Sunderland
31
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Everton
31
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Wolves - Manchester United
31
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Brighton - Arsenal
31
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Espanyol
31
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Osasuna
31
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Bournemouth - Crystal Palace
31
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Leeds
31
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Fulham - Southampton
31
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Villarreal - Valencia
30
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Real Madrid
30
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Leicester City
30
Dec
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Hull City
30
Dec
ENGLAND: Championship
Stoke City - Burnley
30
Dec
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Reading
30
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Brentford
30
Dec
ENGLAND: Championship
Swansea City - Watford
30
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Celta Vigo - Sevilla
30
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Cadiz - Almeria
30
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Mallorca
29
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Elche
29
Dec
ENGLAND: Championship
West Bromwich Albion - Preston NE
29
Dec
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackpool - Sheffield United
28
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leeds - Manchester City
27
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Nottingham Forest
27
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Bournemouth
26
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - West Ham United
26
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Brentford - Tottenham Hotspur
26
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Aston Villa - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.