BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Guatemalan mother and her seven-year-old child who have been separated for a month after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border were reunited in the middle of the night at BWI-Marshall Airport Friday.
Darwin Micheal Mejia and his mother, Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia, were fleeing violence and threats in their home country of Guatemala and seeking asylum. They crossed over the Texas border illegally after traveling 2,300 miles on foot and turned themselves in to Border Patrol near San Luis, Arizona, on May 19.
Asylum seekers must go to an official port of entry to enter the country legally. This is something Mejia-Mejia did not do.
The two were detained and Darwin was put in a detention center. His mother was unaware of the facilities location.
“Look at the face he’s making, he’s sad,” she said. “But we’re going to be together. No one will separate us.”
Mejia-Mejia, 38, filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration earlier this week, challenging the family separation process.
Darwin arrived from Phoenix, meeting a deadline imposed by a U.S. District Court judge that required the U.S. Department of Justice give him an update by noon Friday.
Mejia-Mejia told her son “Te amo,” (Spanish for “I love you”) in between sobs.
“I started to cry when I saw him,” she said. “He’s the only child I have.”
Immigrant advocates held a vigil Friday outside an Anne Arundel County correction center used by the federal government to detain undocumented individuals while they await trail.
The demonstration was aimed at putting pressure on county leaders to end the agreement.
County Executive Steve Schuh issued a statement that says, in part, that the detention center provides a place for individuals who enter the country illegally, who have committed crimes and can be treated humanely.
“We are here to both protest these policies that are supported by the Anne Arundel County Executive and encourage those families who are here and are separated that we are with them we are supporting them,” said Executive Director of the ACLU Dana Vickers Shelley.
Mejia-Mejia is out on bond and awaits her asylum status hearing set in August. The two will likely return to Austin, Texas, where the mom was staying with friends.
There is a move by immigration rights organizations to file a class action lawsuit representing many other families who are separated.
Before leaving the airport, Mejia-Mejia had a message for other parents in her position.
“They have to fight to get out of there, fight for their kids, she says. You have to win the battle,” she said.