Asylum-Seeking Mother Crosses Border After Immigration Officials Separated Baby From Father
Friday, December 29, 2017
Photo by Matthew Bowler
An asylum-seeking mother from El Salvador entered the U.S. on Thursday, anxious to reunite with her 1-year-old son, Mateo, who was separated from his father by U.S. immigration officials.
Olivia Caceres crossed through the San Ysidro Port of Entry with the couple's other son, 4-year-old Andree, around noon on Thursday, according to her lawyer, Erika Pinheiro.
KPBS had interviewed Caceres and her partner, Jose Demar Fuentes, who is currently in an Otay Mesa detention facility in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for a story earlier this month.
Last month, Fuentes presented himself at the port of entry asking for asylum with Mateo. Immigration and Customs Enforcement separated the pair, sending the baby more than 1,500 miles away to an Office of Refugee Resettlement facility in Texas, citing concern for the boy's safety.
Caceres had tried crossing the border on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, but had been turned away by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials who asked her to come back at a later date.
On Wednesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection told KPBS that it had stopped accepting new people at San Diego area ports of entry because they had reached capacity. However, some asylum seekers began trickling in again on Thursday, along with Caceres.
"It's a continuous process," said Shalene Thomas, a spokeswoman for the agency. She said the agency expects continued delays in processing due to a backlog and limited space.
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