Honduran mother reunites with son amid lawsuit over family separations

Yolany Padilla and her six-year-old son Jeslin were reunited Saturday. She is suing the US government in an effort to help other asylum seekers.

After two months apart, a Honduran mother and her young son were reunited at a Seattle airport on Saturday, in an emotional scene of the kind repeated across the US as immigrant families broken apart by the Trump administration have been brought back together.

In the minutes after their reunion at Sea-Tac international airport, Yolany Padilla’s hands did not leave her son’s shoulders. Jelsin, who is six, squeezed his mother’s hands as she offered a hopeful message to parents still kept from their children.

“The moment will come,” she said, in Spanish.


Will separated families be reunited?

More than 2,300 children were separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy. Although the policy has been halted after international opposition, there are concerns that promised reunions won’t happen any time soon, if at all.

The Department of Homeland Security says the “government knows the location of all children in its custody and is working to reunite them with their families”. But attorneys with the Texas Civil Rights Project, which represents hundreds of separated families, said it has “grave concerns about the government’s ability to track parents and children who have been caught up in this crisis”.

Connecting families presents an enormous challenge because once they are detained at the border, children and parents enter two separate systems: for parents, the US Department of Homeland Security and criminal prosecution; meanwhile, children are given “unaccompanied alien child” status and transferred to the US Department of Health and Human Services. With no clear process in place, it’s possible some families will never be reunited. By Lauren Gambino and Olivia Solon.

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Padilla, 24, and her son left Honduras in the spring, to seek asylum in America. They traveled through Guatemala and Mexico before crossing into the US in May. In south Texas, authorities immediately forced them apart.

Jelsin was one of more than 2,500 immigrant children separated from their parents under a “zero tolerance” policy announced by the Trump administration in April and abandoned, under severe international pressure, in June. A federal judge in San Diego ordered that the children be returned to their parents but the government has been slow to do so.

Padilla is now the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against…

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