Thu | Oct 17, 2019

Girl who fuelled opposition to splitting families joins mom

Published:Tuesday | July 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Six-year-old Alison and her mother Cindy Madrid share a moment during a news conference on Friday, July 13, 2018, in Houston. During the press conference, the mother and daughter spoke about the month and one day they were separated under President Donald Trump's administration immigration policy that has separated families attempting to claim asylum in the United States.


A six-year-old girl from El Salvador who became a face of the Trump administration's practice of separating immigrant families at the border has been reunited with her mother.

Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid and her mother, Cindy Madrid, were separated after US authorities detained them on June 13 for illegally entering the United States near Harlingen, Texas.

Audio of the agonised child crying when she was separated - first published by ProPublica and later by The Associated Press - galvanised opposition to the separation of families. Alison pleaded with Border Patrol agents to call her aunt, whose phone number she offered from memory.

President Donald Trump reversed course on the splitting up of families on June 20 after a 'zero-tolerance' policy on illegal entry took effect in the spring.

The joyful reunion occurred early on Friday in Houston. It was initially going to happen in Phoenix, where Alison was staying in a government-backed shelter, said family attorney Thelma GarcÌa. Madrid, 29, was released on bond from an immigration detention centre in Port Isabel, Texas, not far from where she had been arrested.

Alison told reporters that she felt desperate after being separated and that it felt good to reunite. Her mother echoed that sentiment.

"We are beginning to recover the time we lost," Madrid said. "We are very happy to be together as family again."

The mother and daughter plan to live with family in Houston, and the mother will seek asylum, GarcÌa said.