Following a social media firestorm that culminated in an executive order from President Trump promising an end to separation of children and adults attempting to illegally enter the United States, new information has come to light that shows the face of the crisis was, in fact, never separated from her mother, Reuters reports.
TIME Magazine was quick to use the emotional image of young Yanela, two, sobbing as her mother was arrested while trying to make an illegal border crossing into the United States, but there is a bit more nuance to the story as illuminated by The Daily Mail.
Details emerging about the situation largely stem from the testimony of Yanela’s father, Denis Javier Varela Hernandez, who resides in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, describe a scenario in which he and his wife, Sandra, did not agree whatsoever on her mission to make a second attempt to make an illegal border crossing, this time with her two-year-old in tow. Sandra had previously been deported from the United States back to her home country of Honduras in 2013, according to Fox News. Sandra was apprehended as an illegal alien previously in Hebbronville, Texas in 2013, and underwent expedited deportation back to Honduras a little over two weeks later.
Departing on the morning of June 3 and making a nearly 2,000-mile journey – at some point accompanied by a coyote or experienced human smuggler which was paid $6,000 for his services according to Mr. Hernandez – the worried father did not hear a word of news before seeing their images on news broadcasts.
“You can imagine how I felt when I saw that photo of my daughter. It broke my heart. It’s difficult as a father to see that, but I know now that they are not in danger. They are safer now than when they were making that journey to the border.” he stated to interviewers with The Daily Mail. Denis went on to elaborate that Yanela and Sandra were, in fact, never separated by border control agents, and are currently awaiting processing of their asylum claim in a family detention center in Texas.
Denis told interviewers that Sandra had spoken of wanting to make another attempt to enter the United States, but that this particular attempt was not mentioned to himself, family, or friends.
“I didn’t support it. I asked her, why? Why would she want to put our little girl through that? But it was her decision at the end of the day… I don’t have any resentment for my wife, but I do think it was irresponsible of her to take the baby with her in her arms because we don’t know what could happen.”
The couple has three other young children, ranging in age from six (Brianna), to 11 (Cindy), to 14 (Wesley). They are understandably very distraught and confused by the matter and the immense amount of attention being paid to their family.
“The kids see what’s happening. They’re a little worried but I don’t try to bring it up that much. They know their mother and sister are safe now,” Denis said regarding the children left living with him in Puerto Cortes.
Despite the knowledge that his partner is safe, that’s not to say that Denis agrees with the enforcement procedures enacted by border patrol agents under the stricter guidelines imposed by President Trump.
“I’ve never seen it in a positive light the way others do. It violates human rights and children’s rights. Separating children from their parents is just wrong. They are suffering and are traumatized… The laws need to be modified and we need to have a conversation. It’s just not right. [Illegal] Immigration and drug smuggling across the United States border is never gonna stop. They can build a wall and it’s never going to stop,” he said to those present for his interview.
Denis hopes that one of the two best possible outcomes eventually comes to pass – either his wife and daughter are granted asylum or they are deported and reunited with the rest of their family back in Honduras.
The father’s version of events was verified by the Honduran deputy foreign minister Nelly Jerez, as reported by Reuters.