Some immigrant toddlers are back in the arms of their parents, but others remained in holding facilities away from relatives as federal officials fell short of meeting a court-ordered deadline to reunite dozens of youngsters forcibly separated from their families at the border.
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Ever Reyes Mejia walked out of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement center Tuesday, carrying his beaming son and the boy’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backpack. The boy was secured in a booster seat, and father and son were driven away. Another boy and a girl who had been in temporary foster care were reunited with their Honduran fathers at the center about three months after they were split up.
The three fathers were “just holding them and hugging them and telling them that everything was fine and that they were never going to be separated again,” said immigration lawyer Abril Valdes.
The children were “absolutely thrilled to be with their parents again.”
Late last month, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego set a 14-day deadline to reunite children under 5 with their parents and a 30-day deadline for older children. It wasn’t immediately clear how many children left detention facilities Tuesday or how many remain.