Guatemalan woman to be reunited with son after suing over border separation

By Daniel Uria  |  June 21, 2018 at 6:42 PM
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June 21 (UPI) -- A 7-year-old Guatemalan boy will be reunited with his mother Thursday after being detained at the U.S. border while claiming asylum last month, Justice Department lawyers said.

Government lawyers told U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman that a lawsuit filed by the boy's mother was unnecessary because he was in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement and in the process of being released.

"ORR has already begun the process of conducting the necessary checks to fulfill its statutory mandate to assure itself that plaintiff ... is capable of providing for the child's physical and mental well-being," the lawyers said. "ORR expects to be able to release [the boy] to Plaintiffs' custody, once those checks can be completed."

Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian told the court that the child would be released Thursday by 1:30 p.m. PST and reunited with his mother, Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia, in Washington where she was attending a hearing on the separation. They will then travel together to Austin, Texas, where Mejia staying with a friend.

Mejia, 39, had sued to issue a restraining order for her son's release Wednesday. The suit stated the two had escaped violence in Guatemala, which included death threats from her husband, and immigration officials did not say why they took the boy nor where he was being held after they were separated.

The government lawyers also said the lawsuit was flawed as it didn't name the boy as the plaintiff, failed to name agency that was holding him and was filed in Washington instead of Arizona.

Mejia's lawsuit is one of the first to challenge the Trump administration's separation policy.

President Donald Trump signed an order Wednesday calling for entire immigrant families to be detained together by the Department of Homeland Security pending legal and court proceedings for the parents and for the Justice Department to expedite the adjudication of cases involving families with children when possible.

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