SEATAC -- Saturday morning a previously detained mom, separated from her six-year-old son at the U.S.-Mexico border, reunited with him at Sea-Tac International Airport after almost two months apart.
It was a long wait for Yolany Padilla. Immigration officials separated her from her son, Jeslin, almost eight weeks ago and today his flight from New York was delayed by more than an hour.
“It’s difficult to explain what I feel because it’s so big. It’s been so long without seeing him. Imagine how I feel inside,” said Padilla in Spanish. “ I felt like my heart was going to come out,” she said.
The immigrant advocacy group, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project says Jeslin was in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement in New York City until today.
Padilla is a named plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project challenging family separations by Border Patrol or other immigration officials. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has declined to comment on her case.
Last week, an immigration judge released her from the Northwest Detention Center, a private immigration jail in Tacoma on $8,000 bond. She’s from Honduras and was brought here, without her son, by immigration officials after crossing the border illegally in Hidalgo, Texas, according to her attorneys.
Padilla’s attorneys and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project declined to provide further details about her background, citing the sensitivity of her asylum case.
The executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Jorge Baron, said Padilla next faces a deportation hearing where she'll have to demonstrate that she's eligible for asylum to remain in the United States. A date for that hasn't been set.
The organization is working with other parents detained in Western Washington hoping to reunite them with their children. Today Baron said even as he celebrates the reunification of one client, he and his organization are focused on all the other children yet to be reunited.
"There are more than 2,500 children across the country right now who are still separated from their family members," Baron said.
Today, Yolany Padilla had this message for parents still waiting to see their kids again. “Don’t worry. The moment will come. Have faith in God who is the only one who can help in these circumstances that are so sad,” she said.