Update On Deported Honduran Father
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Hundreds of immigrant children are still separated from their families, but one less now. Here's an update from a story that we've been following. We first heard in July from a man we're calling John. He's a single father in his 30s. He says he fled Honduras with his daughter, a girl we are calling Marisol. They were fearing violence in their country. We're not using Marisol and John's real names because they fear for their safety.
After they were separated at the border, John was deported to Honduras alone, and she ended up in a detention center in Florida. And now some good news - Marisol was just released to an uncle in Wisconsin. Reporter James Fredrick has been following the story, and he joins us now from London with an update. And John joins us on the line from Guatemala City. Good morning y buenos dias.
JOHN: Buenos dias.
JAMES FREDRICK: Good morning.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: James, I'm going to start with you. Just remind us briefly why John and Marisol had to leave Honduras.
FREDRICK: So John worked as a police officer in Honduras. And that was where a lot of the threats came from, from the local gangs there. And so life just became untenable after a while. There were death threats against him. There were threats of sexual violence against Marisol. She's 14 years old. And it just became totally untenable for them to stay in Honduras.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Marisol had been staying at a detention center, and John's sister in the U.S. had been in contact with her. I'm going to play a recording now provided to us by John where she talks about how Marisol has been coping there.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).
GARCIA-NAVARRO: The sister is so clearly upset there, and she's saying that Marisol is turning 15 in detention and that she wants her father with her. John, how did you feel when you heard that? John, (speaking Spanish)?
JOHN: (Through interpreter) Not to lie, I cried, too. To see her suffering, I cried, too.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So Marisol has been released to relatives. She's now living with her uncle in Wisconsin. But things are still complicated, right, James?
FREDRICK: Yeah, so it's very difficult for John. And really, he is in total limbo right now and is just kind of living day to day. He's staying at a migrant shelter. And he has, luckily now, some immigration lawyers working on his case pro bono. There are several cases right now on behalf of parents like John who were separated from their children and then deported. And so these lawyers are trying to see how John could fit into these and seeing if these other parents win their cases to be allowed back into the United States.
But really, there's no clear path forward for him. So every day, he wakes up and just hopes that he gets the news that he can be back in the U.S. and be back with his daughter.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: John, how is your daughter doing? And have you spoken to her?
JOHN: (Through interpreter) Yesterday, I spoke with her. She's really happy. She's feeling very positive, but she's still traumatized. She's not at 100 percent. She's happy because she's been let go, but what happened to her in that detention center she's not going to forget. From one day to the next, I don't know what's going to happen next time.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do you know what's going to happen with her now that she's been released? Will she be able to stay in the United States?
JOHN: (Through interpreter) I'm happy and grateful to God and to the people who've been helping me. I'm happy she's been let go because that was the thing that was most worrying, that she was being held in that detention center. She wasn't doing well there. My hope is that she gets to study, go to school, that the government of the United States gives her a chance and that she remains a good person and that she can move forward.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Is she going to be able to have a birthday party, her quinceanera?
JOHN: (Through interpreter) It really hurts me and makes me cry because I've always been with her for her birthday. I've always made her birthday cake by hand. And this is her 15th birthday, which is such an important one for her and I.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: James, what happens next?
FREDRICK: It's still really up in the air. Marisol is out of detention. Now they have to figure out what happens. You know, when I was talking to her uncle yesterday, he told me the first thing they did was they took her shopping because she literally has nothing. She has the clothes on her back and nothing else. They're hoping that she can get into school soon, start meeting some people.
This is the first time she's actually seen anything in the United States outside of a detention center, so we're waiting to see what happens with her, and then we'll wait to see if there is any legal recourse for John. And he will be waiting in Guatemala City to see if he can enter the United States legally.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was reporter James Fredrick in London and John in Guatemala City. Thank you to you both. Muchisimas gracias a los dos.
FREDRICK: Thank you.
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