One day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to stop the separation of parents and children at the southern border, questions remain as to how exactly separated migrant families are going to be reunited.
The Department of Health and Human Services has not elaborated on any plan to reunite kids with parents who are already in federal custody for illegal entry.
It’s been about three weeks since Lidia Souza has seen her 8-year-old son after the two were separated at the border under the zero tolerance policy. She tells NBC Boston there is no set plan in place for them to reunite and the process thus far has been tedious and emotional.
“He cries a lot. My son told me that he got sick there. They separated him from other kids nine days ago. It sounds like he is isolated and can’t talk or play with other kids. He is by himself in a room,” Souza said.
The two flew from Brazil to Mexico in an effort to flee enemies in their homeland. Once in Mexico, they entered into the United States illegally, seeking asylum. The two were initially detained together then split apart after Souza's lawyer says she was charged and prosecuted in federal court.
Souza says she bounced between federal prison and immigration before being released to Massachusetts where she has family. All the while, her son remains in a border detention facility.
“He told me that food there is really bad. I asked him if he had requested any other food at least some bread and milk. He told me that he did but everything is about rules. Everything is at a certain time. Sometimes he’s hungry but has to wait and follow the rules,” Souza said. “He told me, 'mom, just because I went to the hall to talk to someone that was walking by, they put bars in my room. I can’t talk or see anyone.' He is very sad and cries a lot.”
Souza's attorney, Jesse Bless, says although Souza passed a credible fear interview, absolving her from deportation until her asylum case is heard, there is no structured method to reunite the mother with her son.
“They have nothing in place and we’ve been told this by the many people in Texas who’ve told us to submit document after document so that the mother and child can reunify and yet there’s nothing being done,” Bless said.
Bless says they make calls to the Texas border facility constantly. They don't know what it will take to reunite the mother and son, but they say they will stay on top of the job until it's done.