PEARSALL, TX — More than 400 adults have reportedly been removed from the U.S. without their children, according to recent government estimates.
The KENS 5 Border Team has spoken exclusively with a Honduran mother we’re calling “Jackie” to conceal her real identity. Jackie said that she was fooled into signing papers for reunification when she was actually signing off on her own deportation.
Jackie called the KENS 5 Border Team while detained at the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall, Texas. She said that she had been held at other detention centers after she was separated from her teenage son in late May.
She said that she hoped to be reunited by the July 26 court-ordered deadline.
In her native Spanish, she described how she found out she had signed a voluntary removal form without knowing it.
“[They said] I needed to go before ICE on Monday and I said, ‘Yes, that’s fine,’” Jackie explained. “They took me to sign some papers. What I wanted was to be reunited with my son and be with my family in Houston.”
Jackie’s teenage son was held at a shelter for minors 1,800 miles away in New York, she said. The papers she signed wouldn't bring them together.
“A lady read my file on record and told me that what I had signed was my deportation,” she said. “I didn't know what they were doing was making me sign my deportation against my will, because I can’t go back to my country.”
The Honduran mother explained that gang members had gone to their family’s repair shop to steal. Her husband resisted the criminals before he suffered a stroke and died. She said that she fled Honduras with her son, her mother, and her 5-year-old nephew. They crossed into the U.S. illegally across the Rio Grande and were all separated.
Jackie grew desperate and said that staying detained at the facility was hard.
“The room was cold, cold, cold. I couldn't take it any longer,” she described. “I told God to give me some warmth because the room was very cold. It was 11, 12, 1… until 2 a.m. that they got us out [of the room].”
Hours after reaching out to the KENS 5 Border Team, Jackie was able to get a case manager to help void her voluntary deportation and was then released. She was reunited with her son and nephew in Houston over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Jackie’s 60-year-old mother remains in detention.
In all, 431 parents have been removed from the country without their children. About 50 parents have been released in the U.S. without their child and about 120 adults have waived their reunification rights. All this according to information filed by the U.S. government in an ongoing lawsuit by the ACLU in a California federal court.
Immigration and Customs officials said that they could not comment on Jackie’s claims due to pending litigation.