Yolany Padilla, a 24-year-old from Honduras, is currently leading a lawsuit against the U.S. federal government. Padilla intends to represent the plight of separated immigrant families.
After being released from detention, Padilla met with attorneys and pressured ICE officials to reunite her with her children, alongside many other families who are in the same situation.
Padilla stated that she last saw her son in early May, when they were separated. Her son has reportedly been taken to a youth center and is staying with a foster family. He still hasn’t adapted to the situation.
Padilla’s son has been in frequent communication with his mother since her release, and their phone calls tend to end in tears.
“What they are doing is terrible. I just hope the other mothers who are detained will be liberated soon.”
Padilla and her team of lawyers have stated that separating families was unnecessary and cruel, and was largely fueled by the White House’s bureaucratic intentions.
Some released parents are now being forced to endure a set of extensive background checks and identification processes before being able to meet with their children. The checks could apparently take over two months, as parents who have just been reunited with their children in Phoenix had been waiting for over four months.
Padilla and her team have also worked to remind the press that separating families can have serious psychological consequences for children. Children can forget what their parents look like, can experience a partial emotional disconnection from their parents, and can even forget previously-learned actions. A child who was reunited with his parents in Phoenix has apparently gone back to using diapers, despite having been potty-trained before the separation.
When addressing Padilla’s son, her main lawyer Leta Sanchez stated:
“Every day that Jelsin is withheld from his mother, the damage that has already been caused is perpetuated. This is a six-year-old boy, he needs his mother.”
Padilla has partnered with other two women whose children were taken away, and their case might result in an actual change in procedure. A similar case was presented against the federal government, which has resulted in families currently being reunited across the country.
It has been estimated that between two and three thousand children were separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s current “zero-tolerance” policy. The children were taken to foster homes and youth centers, yet many U.S. officials were not aware that the children had been transported to said facilities. As such, many officials were unaware of the number of children being held in their city. The federal government constantly failed to provide officials with essential information such as the children’s names, ages, and locations.
The government currently has until the end of the month to complete all reunions, despite already having missed their original deadline this past Tuesday.
Padilla was arrested on July 18, alongside a group of immigrants that she joined in Guatemala.
Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons