Yeni Maricela Gonzalez Garcia, a Guatemalan woman separated from her children at the Arizona border weeks ago, had a “very emotional” reunion with them at an East Harlem children’s center Tuesday morning.
With more than a dozen members of the media and others swarming an East Harlem children’s center, Gonzalez Garcia lowered her head and was escorted in with a local congressman and her lawyer, Jose Xavier Orochena.
Gonzalez Garcia arrived shortly before 9 a.m. flanked by her attorney, supporters and elected officials, and emerged after spending one hour with her children to address more than two dozen media outlets camped outside the Cayuga Centers facility.
She held a lollipop, a present from her daughter, who had not seen her mother since they were separated near the U.S. border in May.
“The day they took them away from me I told them I promise that I’m going to fight for you and I’m going to find you,” an emotional Gonzalez Garcia said. “Here I am.”
Released on bond from the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona last week, Gonzalez Garcia arrived in New York on Monday evening, thanks to a fundraising effort and a crew of volunteers who took turns at the wheel to make the four-day drive from Eloy.
Her lawyer, Jose Xavier Ochorena, said the children must remain at the Cayuga facility for now, but is allowing Gonzalez Garcia to remain there with the children until 5 p.m., and she will be allowed to return every day to spend time with them.
Ochorena said two applications have been filed for a placement for the children, one on behalf of Gonzalez Garcia, who must remain in New York during the process, and a second by an aunt in North Carolina.
The children will be place in whichever home is approved first, Orochena said. However, the application process requires fingerprint checks for the applicants and others who live in the home. The fingerprint checks are outsourced to a private company that Orochena said is so overwhelmed with applications that the results could take two months.
“She will not leave the city without her children,” Orochena said.
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SOURCE: USA Today; Rockland/Westchester Journal News, Jorge Fitz-Gibbon