Split At The Border, 11-Year-Old Reunites With Her Mom In Middle Tennessee | Nashville Public Radio

Split At The Border, 11-Year-Old Reunites With Her Mom In Middle Tennessee

Jul 13, 2018

 

Scroll down to read or hear this story in Spanish. Desplácese hacia abajo para leer o escuchar esta historia en español.

A Guatemalan mother separated from her 11-year-old daughter while attempting to cross into the United States to seek asylum in May reunited with her Thursday night at the Nashville International Airport. They were separated for more than six weeks.

Dozens of people who’d heard about the plight of Albertina Contreras joined her at the gate to offer support. They brought flowers, waved banners and sang to welcome the child, Yakelyn.

While Waiting, Contreras tried to contain her anxiety.

"I feel speechless in this moment,” she said in Spanish. “I want to run and hug her and tell her how much I love her and that we are finally together again.”

Speaking through a translator, Albertina Contreras tells a crowd gathered at Nashville International Airport to greet her daughter that she is grateful for their support.

The scene was a stark contrast to their entry into the United States, when mother and daughter say they were split up, called animals by border patrol agents, and put in separate detention facilities.

When Contreras was released last month, Yakelyn could only join her if everyone in the home where Contreras planned to live in Murfreesboro gave their fingerprints. It's a policy that her attorneys, Marlee Deck and Andrew Free, argued should not apply to Contreras.

Once the policy was overturned, the legal team was able to get Yakelyn on a plane from Texas within hours.

Contreras thanked the crowd that came to meet her daughter as she arrived.

“I remain surprised by everything you have done and continue to do,” she said.

Away from the lights of the local camera crews, Yakelyn reflected on her whirlwind experience.

While she’s technically been living in the U.S. since May, all she’s known of America were the walls inside her San Benito detention center, where she lived with close to 200 other girls.

Plus, she just flew on a plane for the first time.

“I was surprised when I saw all the little houses through the window,” she said. “They were so tiny. Even the biggest rivers looked like toys.”

But the time away was stressful — Yakelyn calls her mother her best friend.

“I missed her a lot because we’ve never been apart this long," she said. "On Sundays, we would go to the park with my brothers, or we’d make lunch together. But in there, I felt very alone.”

While Yakelyn and her mom are together again, they have a long legal battle ahead to convince the government to allow her to stay under what's known as a fear of return claim.

But first, Albertina Contreras says she’s ready to give her daughter some sense of stability after their harrowing journey, starting with enrolling her in school.

A second immigrant mother resident in Middle Tennessee, Fidelia* was reunited with her son Luis* Thursday night in New York. They flew in to Nashville Friday.

* Last name withheld for security and to protect the family’s privacy.

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Una madre guatemalteca que fue separada de su hija de 11 años cuando intentaba ingresar a los Estados Unidos para pedir asilo en mayo logró reunirse con ella anoche en el aeropuerto internacional de Nashville.

Decenas de personas llegaron a demostrar su apoyo a Albertina Contreras, que pasó más de seis semanas separada de su hija, Yakelyn. Al ritmo de música, y con flores, globos y pancartas, el grupo espero a la niña.

Docenas de personas esperan a Yakelyn con carteles para darle la bienvenida a Tennessee.

"Me siento sin palabras en este momento," dijo Contreras. "Quiero correr, abrazarla y decirle cuánto la amo y que finalmente estamos juntos otra vez."

La escena marcó un arduo contraste a su entrada a los Estados Unidos en mayo, cuando madre e hija fueron detenidas, y dicen que fueron llamadas animales por agentes de la patrulla fronteriza antes de ser puestas en centros de detención separados.

Cuando Contreras fue liberada el mes pasado, le dijeron que no iban a soltar a Yakelyn hasta que todos en el hogar donde Contreras planeaba vivir den sus huellas al gobierno. Una política que sus abogados, Marlee Deck y Andrew Free, argumentaron no debería aplicarse a Contreras, ya que su hija no era una inmigrante no acompañada.

Este martes, esa póliza federal fue anulada por un juez de San Diego. Y anoche Yakelyn se monto en un avión.

Después de reencontrarse con su mama, y lejos de las cámaras de las televisoras locales que la esperaban en el aeropuerto, Yakelyn reflexiono sobre su difícil experiencia.

Albertina Contreras y su hija Yakelyn se despiden de la gente que llego al aeropuerto internacional de Nashville para dejarles saber que tienen apoyo en Tennessee.

"La extrañaba mucho [a mi mamá] porque nunca hemos estado separadas por tanto tiempo. los domingos, íbamos al parque con mis hermanos, o almorzabamos juntos. Pero allí me sentí muy sola.”

Aunque Yakelyn y su madre vuelven a estar juntas, todavía tienen una larga batalla legal por delante para convencer al gobierno de que les permita quedarse en los Estados Unidos.

Por ahora, Contreras dice que lo que más quiere es darle algo de estabilidad a su hija después de su angustiosa separación, empezando por inscribirla en la escuela.

Una segunda madre inmigrante en Middle Tennessee, Fidelia* se reunió anoche con su hijo Luis * en Nueva York. Ellos volvieron a Nashville hoy.

 

 * Los apellidos han sido omitidos para proteger la privacidad de la familia.