1-year-old separated from dad will return to Honduras soon
PHOENIX (AP) — A Honduran 1-year-old who was separated from his father at the U.S.-Mexico border and who took his first steps at a shelter for immigrant children will soon be reunited with his parents, according to the country’s consulate office in Dallas.
The Honduran consulate confirmed it is working closely with U.S. authorities to get the child back to his parents in Honduras within the next few days. The consular officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.
The boy, Johan, faced an immigration judge without his parents last week in a case that garnered international attention.
The calm, quiet boy was dressed neatly in a button-up shirt, pants and dress shoes at immigration court in Phoenix on July 6.
He played with a purple ball, drank milk from a bottle with his name affixed to it and asked for “agua” during the hour-plus hearing. Toward the end of the hearing, his shoes had come off.
The judge, John W. Richardson, expressed misgivings about the case.
“I’m embarrassed to ask it, because I don’t know who you would explain it to, unless you think that a 1-year-old could learn immigration law,” Richardson told the lawyer representing the 1-year-old boy.
The boy’s lawyer asked for a voluntary departure order that allows the U.S. government to fly him back to Honduras. Richardson granted it.
Johan took his first steps at a government-contracted shelter about two weeks ago, said Pamela Florian, an attorney at the Florence Project in Arizona. The Florence Project is handling his case.
Johan is one of hundreds of children who have been separated from their parents, many because of a Trump administration policy to prosecute anyone who crosses the border illegally.
A federal judge in San Diego gave the government until July 10 to reunite all children under 5 with their parents and until July 26 to reunite the rest. Authorities say they have only reunited about half of the approximately 100 kids under 5.
Johan arrived with his father in the U.S. in March and has likely been separated from him since. Consular officials say Johan could be back with his parents in Honduras within the next few days. A consulate employee will escort the boy on the approximately 10- to 15-hour trip.
The Honduran consulate says it is waiting on U.S. authorities to buy the boy’s flight home.