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Immigration

Released and reunited: “He called me and said 'Mommy, I want my dad, I’m alone'”

Ligia Gavarrete says her husband fled death threats from Salvadoran gang members with his 6-year-old son and now both are detained in different centers. As a consequence of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents. This is one of the stories we tracked down thanks to ProPublica's project in partnership with other media outlets, which allows family members to track down loved ones.
19 Jul 2018 – 6:29 PM EDT

Country of origin: Honduras

Date and place of detention: Texas, June 21

Who is looking for them: mother and wife (Ligia Gavarrete)

Detained father: Ever Yoset Mejía

Child detained in shelter: Ever Isaac Mejía Gavarrete

Child location (approximate): Harlingen, Texas

Detention Center where adult is detained: Oregon

Have they communicated?: Once or twice a week with the child. The husband cannot make phone calls because they were going to move him somewhere else.

Four days after this story was published, father and son were released from their detention center and shelter and are now reunited with their family in the US.

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“We were being extorted by gangs and since we didn’t have the money when they wanted it, they were going to kill my husband. Then, the best we could do was to get my husband and the older boy and flee". That's how they decided that Ever Isaac would cross the border into the United States with his father, Ever Yoset Mejía.

Ligia Gavarrete, Ever Isaac’s mother, told Univision Noticias that they left Honduras for Mexico on May 15 th and then they were caught by the Border Patrol when they set foot in the US. This was the territory they believed would keep them safe from the nightmare they were leaving behind in their native country. “They were caught on June 21, 2018”, she explained.

She doesn't know exactly how everything happened, nor can she say precisely in what center her child is, where he sleeps or around whom, and who is responsible for taking care of her child. “Judging by the area code where the social worker calls me from so I can talk to my son, I know he’s in Harlingen, Texas”.

The father, on the other hand, is being held in a detention center in Oregon. “I had the chance to speak more with him because he called me. But I haven’t heard from him since last Monday, because they took his right to make calls and told him they were going to move him to another place". She thinks they will put him somewhere “closer to the child”, but she does not know for sure.

Once or twice a week, the social worker calls her and lets her to talk with her son: “He calls me and says, 'Mommy, I want my dad, I'm alone.'" Her voice cracks not only when she remembers the reasons that made her leave the country, but also when she says the family had never separated before. “He has never been alone and he is desperate".


The child is not the only one who is desperate. “Help me, please, I’d like to know what will become of them", the mother asks. Meanwhile, she works making tortillas to pay for expenses and takes care of her 2-year-old son. She must change residence from time to time to avoid gang harassment in her country. “My husband had a good job rewinding electric engines and he earned well, and that’s how they noticed him (the gang members). They called themselves The 18th”.

In the city where they lived, they filed a complaint with the authorities, “but in this country they wait for you to be killed to do something”, he complained.

Ever Isaac “didn’t understand, he only saw our anguish". Now, he tells his mother that he has classes all day in the institution where he is, where he eats and sleeps.

All they wanted, Ligia said, was to get to California, “where my husband’s mother lives” and be safe.


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