Asylum-seeking mom from Honduras reunited with son

July 14, 2018 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — A 24-year-old Honduras woman seeking asylum in the United States and her 6-year-old son were reunited at a Seattle airport Saturday, two months after they were separated by U.S. immigration authorities.

“It was like my heart was going to come out of my body,” Yolany Padilla said about first spotting her son, Jeslin, at Sea-Tac Airport.

Padilla crossed the border illegally in Hidalgo, Texas, on May 18. She was sent to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, and was released about a week ago on $8,000 bond.


Jeslin was placed in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and sent to New York.

Padilla is a named plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project has filed challenging President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policy that separates families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We’re still going to be working on the lawsuit as long as parents are separated from their children,” said Jorge Baron, executive director of the project, who was also at the airport.

He said Padilla next faces a deportation hearing where she’ll have to demonstrate that she’s eligible for asylum to remain in the United States. A date for that hasn’t been set.

Padilla, according to Baron, already had to convince authorities she had a legitimate chance at attaining asylum before being released from the detention center. Baron declined to say why Padilla was seeking asylum.

Baron said mother and son are staying with a family in the local area for at least the next several days.

The Trump administration has been scrambling to reunify the separated families to meet deadlines set by a federal judge in San Diego who ordered thousands of children be given back to their parents. Scores of children separated from their families at the border were sent to government-contracted shelters or foster care hundreds of miles away from where their parents were detained.

“There are more than 2,500 children across the country right now who are still separated from their family members,” Baron said.