Los Angeles — Cleivi’s youngest daughter, Alison, would not let go of her or the blue welcome poster she made for her father, Fernando Arredondo. Her eldest girls, Keyli and Andrea, scoured the arrivals area for the best vantage point to catch the first glimpse of their father. Cleivi herself was visibly nervous.
Shortly before midnight, Fernando’s group of migrant parents, lawyers and faith leaders emerged. Andrea, 14, was the first to see him, but it was 7-year-old Alison who rushed towards Fernando, yelling, “Daddy!” One by one, Fernando hugged his daughters before kissing a teary Cleivi and lifting Alison in the air.
“Thank you, God. Thank you, God,” Fernando said in Spanish, raising his hands and looking upward as he embraced his family for the first time in nearly two years.
The Guatemalan family’s three-year quest to live together in the safety of the U.S. finally seemed to be within reach with Fernando’s arrival at Los Angeles International Airport on January 22, made possible by a court mandate and advocacy groups like Al Otro Lado. While overjoyed to be back with his family, his thoughts immediately went to the other Central American families who had suffered the same plight.
“We all deserve an opportunity in life,” he told CBS News. “And to all the parents who are watching us, who are separated from their children, have patience, have faith and pray a lot because miracles exist.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, believes a precedent has been established following the court decision that allowed Fernando and eight other migrant parents to make a historic return to the U.S. last month.
In his ruling last September, Judge Dana Sabraw of the U.S. District Court in San Diego said Fernando and 10 other parents could come back to the U.S. to reunite with their children and pursue their asylum cases because he found they had been unlawfully deported after being provided false information by U.S. officials or coerced into waiving their rights.
BY CAMILO MONTOYA-GALVEZ for CBS NEWS
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