On Friday morning, more than 30 days after the Trump administration separated Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia from her seven-year-old son, Darwin, the mother and child reunited in a tearful embrace at Baltimore Washington International Airport.
Mejia-Mejia, who fled an abusive relationship in Guatemala and sought political asylum in the United States, sued the Trump administration for forcibly separating her from her son after they crossed the U.S. border together in May. Throughout the separation, Mejia-Mejia did not know the whereabouts of her son. CNN reports that on Thursday, “just minutes” before the hearing, the Justice Department agreed to release Darwin; hours later, he flew from Phoenix, Arizona to meet his mother in Washington D.C., where she had traveled for the court appearance.
Darwin was just one of the more than 2,000 children who have been taken away from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s new “zero-tolerance” policy, which prosecutes all undocumented adults crossing the border as criminals and then separates them from their children.
While Mejia-Mejia ultimately found her son again, her case is the sadly rare exception: the administration has no plan for reuniting the children they snatched away from parents, and with Trump’s new executive order, seeks to detain families indefinitely and only protects against family separation for 20 days.
“This child is not the only child,” Mario Williams, Mejia-Mejia’s attorney, told CNN. “There’s thousands of children similarly situated we have to do something about.”
Michael Donovan, CEO of Libre by Nexus of Atlanta, the bond company that paid for Mejia-Mejia’s representation and bond, told reporters that the lawsuit will expand into a class-action case. “We’re very, very happy, but you can’t ignore the absolute human crisis created by the separation in the first place,” he said to reporters outside of the courthouse on Thursday.
“It’s not fair for a mother,” Mejia-Mejia said of the weeks-long separation. “It’s like they’re putting a knife in your chest and killing you.”