7-Year-Old Reunited With Her Mom After Nearly 2 Months in Immigration Detention

Miami (CNN)The 7-year-old girl had been apart from her family, alone in detention, for nearly 2 months.

On Sunday, she and her mother were tearfully reunited at Miami-Dade airport.

Busy passengers at baggage claim were oblivious to the emotional story playing out in front of them as Buena Ventura Martin-Godinez, 29, embraced her daughter for the first time since she left her behind at home in Guatemala, 61 days ago.

Martin-Godinez has been staying with family in Miami after she crossed the US border with her son and claimed asylum on May 1.

Her husband crossed with their daughter, Janne Idali Godinez Martin, shortly afterward, on May 8. They didn’t know that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had announced, the day before, that all adults crossing the border illegally would be charged with federal crimes — a zero tolerance policy that would force parents to be separated from their children.

Martin-Godinez’s husband was detained in Atlanta; Janne was detained and taken to Michigan.
During that time, Janne became sick. Even though Martin-Godinez is a nurse in Guatemala, she was powerless to help her daughter as she complained of headaches and pain from 1,300 miles away.

On Sunday, Janne clutched a stuffed animal as her mother wiped away her tears.
“She is asking to never be separated from her mother again,” Martin-Godinez says, translating into Spanish what her daughter said in her native Mam.

The mother’s message to other mothers: if you’re thinking of claiming asylum here, find another country. “The laws here are harsh. And people don’t have hearts,” she said.

“People dream of coming here, to save their lives, but I don’t what them to experience what I’ve gone through,” she said.

Escaping the threat of violence at home

As a nurse in her hometown of Huehuetenango, Martin-Godinez made a good salary, and her husband, Pedro Godinez Aguilar, had started a business. But that brought constant demands from gangs in the area. Pay up — or face violence. “We were threatened by people, that if we didn’t pay them they were going to kill us, or our kids,” she said.

By Samira Said for CNN
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