Jeimy, an asylum seeker and client of Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice—our JFON site in Iowa—is finally reunited with her son after a five-year separation.
In a region plagued by alarming rates of domestic and gender-based violence, Honduras is an unfortunate stand-out: it is the country with the highest rate of femicide in Latin America. Victims of domestic violence receive little or no help from local Honduran law enforcement. Neither will they find much support in the country’s scant legal protections.
There was no place for Jeimy to hide from her abuser in Honduras. She had little money, and even fewer options available to her. But Jeimy was determined to protect her family. She made the difficult decision to leave her home and come to the U.S. to seek asylum.
But the journey, Jeimy knew, would be filled with danger, especially for her 3-year old son. While she prepared her middle daughter for the grueling trip, she made the agonizing, but inevitable, decision:
She would have to leave him behind in the care of his eldest sibling, Jeimy’s 18-year-old daughter.
Once in the U.S., Jeimy found her way to Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice — Our JFON site in Iowa—and applied for asylum. Obtaining asylum would allow her children to join her and their sister in the new home they had made for themselves.
But asylum cases take years to process. Meanwhile, Jeimy’s abuser began increasing his threats against her children. Eventually, they were forced to flee to the U.S. border as well.
They were greeted there with another heartbreaking calamity. Under Title 42 —the little-known provision of U.S. health law invoked at the start of the pandemic under Trump and continued under the Biden administration—adult migrants and asylum seekers are denied entry into the United States.
The siblings were cruelly separated. Jeimy’s daughter was sent back to Honduras. Her son, declared an unaccompanied minor, would spend three weeks alone in a detention center before he was allowed to join his mother in Iowa.
Finally, the day arrived for the long-awaited mother and son reunion. Jeimy shared this video of the moment they first meet again after five long years. Please be warned, however, that some may find it too heart-wrenching to watch. These are the tears of a mother’s absolute joy and relief, but the moment is also painfully bittersweet.
While Jeimy’s eldest daughter is still separated from them and back in Honduras, the family cannot be truly complete. Jeimy’s arduous journey is not yet finished, and neither is the work of Iowa MMJ.