He could have lost his son forever.
When Edison’s* estranged brother joined a gang and began threatening his family, Edison feared for the safety of his 13-year-old son, Julio*. Edison filed a police report in Guatemala, but there was no response. The gang assaulted one family member and killed another. Frightened for his son, Edison fled to the U.S. with Julio, in hopes of receiving asylum.
Upon crossing the border, Edison and Julio presented themselves to U.S. border agents. Father and son were taken to a detention facility, where they were interviewed by an official. Edison explained that he was afraid to return to Guatemala. Instead of continuing the interview, the official announced that Edison and Julio would be separated. Edison watched in horror as guards led his crying son away.
After a frantic month in detention with no information about Julio, Edison was finally given use of a phone to speak with his son, but he was not given a phone number. That same night, Edison was deported to Guatemala, leaving his young son alone in the United States.
Stranded without support or information, Edison might have lost his son forever — the U.S. government had no plan and no intention to reunite separated families. Luckily, Justice in Motion
was ready to act. One month after Edison was deported, we received his name from the government. The only other information we were given was the name of a village in Guatemala. Undaunted, Pamela, a Guatemalan lawyer and Justice in Motion Defender, took on the mission of finding Edison and giving him the chance to reunite with his son.
When Pamela arrived in the remote area where Edison was believed to reside, she realized that there were three different villages, each with the same name. Pamela visited each village in turn, knocking on doors and speaking to passersby in search of any clues to Edison’s whereabouts. Finally, she met a woman who directed her to Edison’s house.
Pamela interviewed Edison, and she quickly realized that not only would it be unsafe for Julio to return to Guatemala, but Edison himself was in danger. We therefore referred Edison’s case to an organization that could provide specialized legal counsel as the father sought to safely reunite with his son in the U.S. Pamela helped the lawyers to interview Edison in person and submit his asylum declaration to the U.S. government.
In September, the judge granted Edison and other parents the right to join their children in the U.S. Edison is desperate to see Julio again, after a year of separation. As advocates coordinate separated parents’ return to the U.S., Pamela is keeping Edison informed of developments and ensuring he has the documentation he needs to reunite with his son.
* Names and identifying details, including Defender names, changed to protect privacy.