Yeni Gonzalez

AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

Weeks After Being Separated At Border, Guatemalan Mom Reunites With Children In NYC

July 03, 2018 - 3:55 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- A Guatemalan mother saw her three children Tuesday, for the first time since being separated from them six weeks ago at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Yeni Maricela Gonzalez Garcia, looking serious and a bit nervous, walked briskly Tuesday into the Cayuga Center in East Harlem, the agency that placed her children in foster care. She was accompanied by supporters, including U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-New York), who held Gonzalez's arm.

Gonzalez Garcia, who was detained by ICE after she crossed the border illegally on May 19. When she arrived in the city Monday, she told reporters that she was counting the hours until she can "tell them that everything is all right.''

Finally, the reunion happened. Gonzalez Garcia spoke through tears and clung to a lollipop with a blue and white swirl – a gift from her daughter. It was an emotional reunion with her children.

“Thank God I found them in good condition,” she said in Spanish through an interpreter. “They told me they want me to take them soon.”

That could take a couple of months. The sponsor family’s fingerprints have to be checked.

A team of volunteers had taken shifts driving the 29-year-old across the country from Arizona after she was released from Eloy Detention Center on Thursday.

A group of parents and artists in the New York area raised money through a crowdfunding campaign to cover her $7,500 bond.

Gonzalez Garcia thanked the strangers who donated money to get her out of detention, and those who drove her from Arizona to New York. The Cayuga Center said Gonzalez Garcia can visit her children every day while she fights for custody and asylum.

More than 2,000 children were taken from their families in recent weeks and scattered in different states under the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance'' policy for crossing the border illegally.

“ICE is a rogue agency under the direction of a rogue President and both must be stopped before more havoc is wreaked on people seeking a better life in our country,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who was the first to welcome Gonzalez Garcia when she arrived to greet a rally of supporters in Queens. “We must abolish ICE and then abolish Donald Trump at the ballot box as soon as possible.”   

While Gonzalez Garcia's Tuesday reunion with her children, 6-year-old Deyuin, 9-year-old Jamelin and 11-year-old Lester, was only be a visit, the Cayuga Center said Gonzalez Garcia can visit her children every day while she fights for custody and asylum.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)