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Deported Migrant Waits Anxiously To Be Reunited With His Daughter


Hundreds of Central American migrant parents are still trying to figure out where their children are and how to reunite with them. Some 2,000 children or more were separated from parents when they crossed the border. Last week, a federal judge ordered that they all be reunited with their parents within a month. Tyche Hendricks of our member station KQED has been following one family's efforts to recover their child. And KQED reporter Alex Hall follows up.

ALEX HALL, BYLINE: Nazario crossed the U.S.-Mexico border east of San Diego with his 5-year-old daughter, Filemona, in mid-May. Nazario is a farmer from a village in northern Guatemala. We aren't using his last name to protect his family because they've been threatened by gangs. Nazario and his daughter were detained by Border Patrol. He asked for asylum. In a court declaration, Nazario said Filemona was taken out of his arms by the Border Patrol agents. Both he and his daughter were screaming and crying, he said. While Nazario was detained in San Diego, he did not know where his daughter had been taken. His public defender, James Chavez, tracked the little girl down in New York. Chavez spoke to a caseworker who had visited Filemona.

JAMES CHAVEZ: She just described a little girl who's just crying every day who was missing her father very much, which paralleled him crying every day missing his little girl.

HALL: Nazario was prosecuted for illegally entering the U.S. He abandoned his request for asylum in the hopes it would improve his chances of being reunited with his daughter.

CHAVEZ: My impression of Nazario is that he was deeply depressed, maybe even broken.

HALL: Two weeks ago, immigration agents put Nazario on an airplane and deported him back to Guatemala. We reached him by phone on Tuesday. He says he last talked to his daughter by phone late last week.

NAZARIO: (Speaking Spanish).

HALL: He says, Filomena can't even talk. She cries. She's upset with her parents.

NAZARIO: (Speaking Spanish).

HALL: Nazario says he hasn't received any information from U.S. authorities about his daughter. His main point of contact has been the Guatemalan consulate.

NAZARIO: (Speaking Spanish).

HALL: It's been nearly two months since he saw his daughter, he says. He has no idea when she's coming back. The consulate has told him to be patient. He says, his patience is running out.

For NPR News, I'm Alex Hall in San Diego.

(SOUNDBITE OF RENE AUBRY'S "SALENTO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alex Hall