Mother desperate to be reunited with daughter separated at U.S.-Mexico border

A local mother is desperate to be reunited with her 7-year-old daughter after the little girl was separated from family at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

She says they were seeking asylum here because their lives were in danger. 

Separated from her daughter, this mother, who we are calling Maria, doesn’t want to show her face or give her name, still in fear of the dangerous gang violence she escaped in El Salvador.

Two years ago, Maria left her 7-year-old daughter with family where she’d be safe so she could seek asylum at the U.S Southern border.

"My life was in danger at that moment," said Maria. 

Recently, Maria’s family was also forced to flee their home country.

"My daughter came with my sister and then they were separated, and she told me she didn’t know where she was," she said. 

Her daughter was brought into custody by border patrol but her sister was denied entry.

Maria is scared, knowing how she was treated by border patrol when she sought asylum.

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"They treat us very badly because we’re immigrants," said Maria. "It’s not that we want to do anybody harm. We just came for a better life for ourselves and our children especially."

Desperate to find her, Maria said she found the contact for the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement online.

"Every day that I called to see if my daughter was in the immigration encampments they would say they didn’t know, and finally eight days went by and I was able to reach someone again and that’s when I found that she was there," she said. 

A refugee center in Texas is where she’s reportedly being held. Thursday was the first time in weeks Maria was able to hear her daughter’s voice. 

"My daughter was feeling scared and she was crying and she was feeling very nervous," said Maria. 

Maria’s attorney, who has been working on her asylum case, said the influx of migrants at the border is further complicating the reunification process of unaccompanied children.

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"The U.S. government doesn’t have the infrastructure to process and house and feed all  of these people so that’s why you’re seeing pop up detencition centers," said Lynnwood immigration attorney Stefani Ramos Birch. "How does the office of refugee resettlement handle and process these children and reunite them with their families in the U.S."

Right now, Maria has to prove to that she is the biological mother of her daughter before they can reunite in Washington

"Here everything is different and our children have a better future," said Maria. 

Maria said she has the documentation needed, like birth certificates, to prove who she is.

She said officials have asked her to submit those documents via Whats App, which she thought was odd but she’s staying positive. 

Her attorney said their goal is to get her daughter back in weeks and not months. 

Q13 reached out to the resettlement office for comment on the reunification process and clarity on the submission of documents. We are waiting to hear back. 

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