'I'm the happiest woman in the world': Immigrant mom and son, 10, reunited after Trump policy tore them apart

BROWNSVILLE — Two months after immigration officials tore her away from her 10-year-old son, an emotional Guatemalan mother wouldn’t let go of the boy minutes after they were reunited outside a Brownsville, Tex., shelter for separated children.

Lesvia Vazquez, 39, wrapped her arms around Yudem and couldn’t stop kissing him on the cheeks after seeing him walk out of the Casa El Presidente shelter.

“Right now I am the happiest woman in the world to be able to see my son again,” Vazquez said, crying.

“I missed her so much,” said Yudem, drying his tears. “I couldn’t stand it in there anymore. I wanted to be with my mom. When I saw her I felt a lot of happiness.”

Until Wednesday afternoon, Vazquez was one of the hundreds of desperate and frustrated parents demanding that the Trump administration return their children to them after he enacted his controversial “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that separated families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Almost a month after President Trump reversed course, hundreds of children like Yudem are finally hugging their parents again.

“He’s a father, too,” Vazquez said about Trump. “I want to say to him to understand that what he did is wrong. Please don’t make us suffer more. I want him to remember that his wife is a mother, too, for him to understand the pain that he is causing us.”

Vazquez said it was too painful for her to recall the day she and Yudem were separated at a McAllen, Tex., detention center on May 18. It had taken them roughly two weeks to reach the border, said Vazquez, who fled Guatemala escaping domestic abuse.

“They told me, ‘we are going to separate you.’ I didn’t know what to say. And they took him away,” she said, planting more kisses on the boy’s cheek.

Vazquez was released from a detention center outside Austin Thursday after an organization named Grassroots Leadership paid her bond. She had been demanding the shelter free her son since Friday, she said.

“I came in only to visit him. They had told me that it would take a few more weeks before I could take him home. I couldn’t believe when they told me they were going to give him back to me,” she said. “I’ll never let him go now.”

Vazquez and Yudem will travel to Florida this week to await their court date in late July. She said she hopes an immigration judge lets her stay so that her son can have a better future in the United States.

“I want to study and I want to be an architect,” he said shyly.

“I want to give him everything he needs,” she said. “I want to give him a better future. I want him to be something in life.”

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John Moore's photographs at the Rio Grande
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: Central American asylum seekers, including a Honduran girl, 2, and her mother, are taken into custody near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The group of women and children had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: Central American asylum seekers, including a Honduran girl, 2, and her mother (L), are taken into custody near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The group of women and children had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's 'zero tolerance' policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: A two-year-old Honduran stands with her mother after being detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained before being sent to a Border Patrol processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's 'zero tolerance' policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: A U.S. Border Patrol spotlight shines on a terrified mother and son from Honduras as they are found in the dark near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and had become lost in the woods. They were then detained by Border Patrol agents and then sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's 'zero tolerance' policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: A Honduran mother holds her two-year-old daughter while being detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's 'zero tolerance' policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: U.S. Border Patrol agents detain a group of Central American asylum seekers near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The group of women and children had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's 'zero tolerance' policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - FEBRUARY 23: A U.S. Border Patrol agent searches for undocumented immigrants on February 23, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Thick brush covers the bank of the Rio Grande, which forms the border between the U.S. and Mexico(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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