After nearly two months since they were separated at the southern United States border, a Guatemalan mother seeking asylum in Massachusetts has been reunited with her 8-year-old daughter in Boston.
Angelica Rebeca Gonzalez-Garcia and her daughter were reunited at Logan Airport on Thursday, according to the American Civil Liberties Union Massachusetts (ACLUM).
Gonzalez-Garcia and her daughter were separated for more than 50 days, according to Rep. Katherine Clark, who was present for the reunification. In a video posted online, Clark sits next to Gonzalez-Garcia when her daughter enters the room, Gonzalez-Garcia running from her seat to hug her child.
Today, after more than 50 days, Angelica and her daughter have finally been reunited. pic.twitter.com/9Utles8eVA
— Katherine Clark (@RepKClark) July 5, 2018
“Today, I am reborn,” Gonzalez-Garcia told reporters at a news conference. “I thought my life had ended, and I was never going to see my daughter again. I don’t have words to express the happiness that my heart feels.”
Gonzalez-Garcia’s daughter, who has been identified by the initials S.K., spent her eighth birthday alone in a Texas detention center, according to the ACLUM.
“This is trauma inflicted on children and this is trauma inflicted on parents and it is entirely unnecessary,” said Susan Church, an immigration attorney and part of the Gonzalez-Garcia family’s legal team, at the news conference. “Without Congresswoman Clark’s help, the government said to Ms. Gonzalez-Garcia that she might see her child in August. In August — from May 9. It’s an outrage. We have to fix this problem. It can be done, it should be done.”
The Gonzalez-Garcia family was reunited because of legal representation from the law firms Demissie & Church and Nixon Peabody, with support by the ACLUM and Clark.
S.K. is all smiles as she plays with her new doll in between hugs with mom. pic.twitter.com/QlOEAWoVHA
— ACLU Massachusetts (@ACLU_Mass) July 5, 2018
One-off reunifications are happening due to individual lawsuits — four Massachusetts women have filed such lawsuits and on Thursday, along with Gonzalez-Garcia and her daughter, two other families were reunited, according to the Boston Globe, and one plaintiff is still fighting for custody. Officials called on the federal government to do more to reunite families without this need for legal representation.
“If there’s one message to take away today it is that these are real lives and real people. These are not abstract concepts” said ACLUM Executive Director Carol Rose at the news conference. “The government spent extraordinary resources to separate these children from their parents. They need to spend at least that much if not more resources reuniting them promptly.”