Three months after being separated from his father by ICE, one-year-old Mateo has been released into the custody of his mother, Olivia. Mateo was separated from his father, Jose, in November 2017 after Jose requested asylum at the San Diego border after fleeing persecution in their native El Salvador. Jose remains in detention despite having followed all procedures for seeking asylum.
According to reports in December 2017, the Trump administration is considering a policy that would separate all families seeking asylum at the border.
“Under no circumstances should babies and children like Mateo be torn from their families when seeking asylum in the United States,” said Ashley Houghton, tactical campaign manager with Amnesty International USA. “It is appalling to think that the government is thinking of making it a matter of policy to subject desperate and frightened families to this additional cruelty.”
According to ICE officials, Mateo was initially taken because Jose lacked identifying documents establishing their relationship. However, Jose had his passport and Mateo’s birth certificate, which established Mateo as his son.
Since November, Jose has been in detention in San Diego while Mateo was in Texas. Olivia was cleared to enter the U.S. while her asylum claim is being processed.
“Thank you very much,” she said in a message to activists who have rallied for Jose and Mateo’s release. “I am very grateful for all the support you gave to my Mateo. The fight continues against the unfair and inhuman separation of families. This battle will be complete when Jose is free.”