Allison, 6, and her mother Cindy Madrid share a moment during a news conference, Friday, July 13, 2018, in Houston.
The Houston Chronicle/Marie D. De Jes's via Associated Press
- A little girl whose voice was heard in a recording from a detention facility has been reunited with her mother after they were separated under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.
- Six-year-old Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid could be heard on the recording persistently asking officers to call her aunt, rattling off the phone number she’d memorized.
- Her mother, Cindy Madrid, was released from a south Texas detention facility on Wednesday and reunited with her daughter in Houston early Friday morning.
- Madrid says she won’t dwell on their monthlong separation — but in an interview, she wondered aloud whether anything had been accomplished by it.
A 6-year-old girl from El Salvador who became a face of the Trump administration’s practice of separating immigrant families at the border has finally been reunited with her mother.
Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid and her mother, Cindy Madrid, were separated after US authorities detained them June 13 for illegally entering the United States near Harlingen, Texas.
Audio of the agonized child crying when she was separated — first published by ProPublica and later by The Associated Press — galvanized opposition to the separation of families. Alison pleaded with Border Patrol agents to call her aunt, whose phone number she had memorized.
President Donald Trump reversed course on the splitting up of families on June 20 after a “zero tolerance” policy on illegal entry took effect in the spring.
The joyful reunion occurred early Friday in Houston. It was initially going to happen in Phoenix, where Alison was staying in a government-backed shelter, said family attorney Thelma Garcia. Madrid, 29, was released on bond from an immigration detention center in Port Isabel, Texas, not far from where she was arrested.
Cindy Madrid, from El Salvador, and her 6-year-old daughter Allison walk into a news conference in Houston on Friday, July 13, 2018, to discuss their reunion after being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Associated Press/John L. Mone
Alison told reporters that she felt desperate after being separated and that it felt good to reunite. Her mother echoed that sentiment.
“We are beginning to recover the time we lost,” Madrid said. “We are very happy to be together as family again.”
The mother and daughter plan to live with family in Houston and the mother will seek asylum, Garcia said. She may seek to move the case from immigration court in Harlingen to Houston.
Madrid said she brought her daughter to the United States in search of a better life.
“I believe she has the capacity to get by here,” she said.
Madrid told ProPublica on Friday that for her daughter’s sake she didn’t want to dwell on their separation, but she also speculated whether anything had been accomplished by it.
“It’s unfair what they are doing to the adults,” Madrid said. “But what they’re doing to children is worse. They’re harming them, possibly for life. What’s the point of that?”
The Trump administration has said that up to nearly 3,000 children have been separated at the border. Earlier this week, 58 children under 5 years old were reunited under an order from a federal judge, though the government fell more than one day short of meeting its July 10 deadline.
The government now faces a bigger deadline of July 26 to reunite more than 2,500 children 5 and older. A Justice Department attorney said in a court hearing on Friday that the government will be reuniting the children on a “rolling, regular basis,” and that most of the reunifications will take place in ICE facilities.
Watch the moments after Alison and her mother were reunited:
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