Father and son separated at the border reunited after 326 days apart
A father and son who had been separated for almost 11 months after the Trump administration's 'no tolerance' immigration policy have finally been reunited.
Jose Alvizures and his 10-year-old son, Ervin, attempted to enter the US last year after fleeing their home country of Guatemala. They had been getting death threats from gangs that control their town, and believed that the USA would offer them safe refuge.
However, when they presented themselves at the border and declared that they wanted to seek asylum (which is the legal way to enter the country), Jose was given some documents to sign.
As he did not speak or read English, the man says he did not realise that what he was signing was his own deportation papers. Before he knew it, he was being sent straight back to Guatemala; meanwhile, his young son was kept in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.
Before they parted, Jose hugged Ervin close, unsure of when he would next see his boy.
While his father was away, Ervin spent five months in a government facility before eventually being released to an uncle in Arkansas.
According to CBS, "Ervin's family does not believe he was mistreated while detained, though they said he has nightmares. Ervin said each night, he and other children said a prayer — some would cry."
This Sunday, 326 days after he was sent away from the US border, Jose was finally able to be reunited with his son.
The pair embraced at the airport after Jose flew in with the help of Al Otro Lado, a non-profit organisation that helps asylum seekers reach safety.
Now they are back together, Jose and Ervin are awaiting the next hearing in their asylum case.
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union said that it would push for the government to hasten the process of identifying and reuniting families like Jose and Ervin, who had been separated under the 'no tolerance' policy and remained apart long after the practice was supposedly ended.
"The big wild card out there is whether there may be thousands more who have been separated. The government has remarkably asked for two years just to identify these new thousands of families," said Lee Gelernt with the ACLU.
Jose and Ervin are still awaiting to hear their fate - as are so many other families who followed due process in order to flee danger and pursue a better life in the USA.