$43K for migrant mothers reunite with separated children.
The two mothers from Guatemala would still be in an Arizona detention center if not for the donations of hundreds of strangers across the country working to reunite migrant parents with their children.
Nearly 3,000 children remain separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy.
Amalia Itzep-Lopez, 26, and Juana Soch-tohom de Bulux, 38, left the Eloy Detention Center after their bonds were paid by people who gave as little as $5 and as much as $5,000.
In total, strangers raised $43,700, as of Sunday morning, to free the mothers.
That made them two of the latest in a handful of parents who were first detained and separated from their children, then later freed on bond as they pursue asylum cases.
A few of those parents have since been able to reunite with their children through a seemingly chaotic combination of legal filings and public pressure. One mother who filed a lawsuit had authorities agree to return her child to her in Baltimore. Another had her child released to her and her husband in Los Angeles.
Another woman, Yeni Maricela Gonzalez Garcia, was freed from Eloy and took a high-profile road trip to New York to meet with her children at a shelter there, though the children had not yet been released to her.
On Friday, Itzep-Lopez and Soch-tohom de Bulux hoped to follow her lead. They had miles to go, and days to travel, before they were to reach the East Coast. Soch-tohom de Bulux will reunite with her daughter when she arrives, but the U.S. government is holding Itzep-Lopez’s children.
But the first big step is complete.
Now they must navigate a federal system without a clear path.
They remember leaving their home in Guatemala with their children by their side, knowing that they would do whatever it took to reach a safe place.
They haven’t seen their children in about a month, the mothers recounted in interviews the day they left the detention center.
Itzep-Lopez was told her two sons are in Florida. Soch-tohom de Bulux was told her daughter is in New York.
The next part of their travels that starts in Arizona — where they ended a journey, thousands of miles long, when they crossed the border illegally — will depend on the good will of others.
Both mothers said their children were with them when they entered the United States in San Luis, Arizona, about 20 miles south of Yuma.
The same day Border Patrol apprehended Itzep-Lopez and her boys, officers took them from her, she said.
The had five minutes to say goodbye, she said.
Since May 25, she spent 43 days in detention without her sons Juan, 8, and Mario, 7, who were sent to Miami.