Keldy Mabel Gonzáles Brebe de Zúniga was one of the first parents separated of his children at the US-Mexico border as part of former President Donald Trump’s zero tolerance policy for undocumented immigrants.
The story of her reunion after nearly four years of separation from her two teenage sons aired on MSNBC on Saturday. On Wednesday, The New Yorker magazine published a detailed account of his ordeal. The meeting itself was to be broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Gonzáles Brebe, from Honduras, told MSNBC that when she was separated from her children in September 2017, she felt that border officials viewed her as a smuggler. The policy of the Trump era was designed to deter migrants with children from coming from Mexico to the United States.
“They treated me like I wasn’t the mother of my children,” she said.
She traveled to the United States in 2017 after witnessing the murder of her brother, the fourth of her siblings to die at the hands of contract killers, she told The New Yorker. Her family was living in hiding, she said, and her husband and eldest son, 18 at the time, made it to the United States.
Gonzáles Brebe arrived at the New Mexico border with his sons Erik, then 13, and Mino, then 15, and asked border patrol officers to surrender and seek asylum, he said. she told the magazine. At first, the separation didn’t alarm her as much as it did later.
“They told me it would only be five days and then they would bring us together so that we could be together,” she told MSNBC. “I thought it would be soon.”
A few days later, at a treatment center in the United States, she asked, “Where are my children?”
“They said to me, ‘Who told you that your children would be there? She said on MSNBC. “And that’s where I started to feel a strong sense of agony. I thought my kids were going to be in this place by then, but I never saw them again.”
Gonzáles Brebe has been accused of entering the United States illegally and deported to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, without her sons. But she returned to Mexico to be closer to them.
The boys were handed over to an aunt in Philadelphia in 2018, the year a federal judge ordered an end to Trump’s family separations. The ACLU said more than 5,000 children were taken from their parents at the border under Trump.
Following his 2020 election, President Joe Biden’s administration announced that four families would be reunited this week, and others separated under Trump could meet in the United States.
Gonzáles Brebe, chosen to attend the first four meetings, entered the United States on humanitarian parole, work authorization and a three-year reprieve after deportation, The New Yorker reported.
She said she wanted her reunion to be a surprise, so her boys were rounded up in Philadelphia under the pretext of being filmed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to cover the family’s ongoing lawsuit against the government.
But the mother hid behind a news crew as she entered the Philadelphia home, and her sons were pleasantly shocked.
“The voice of God was telling me to give them this surprise,” she said. “They cried a lot.”
Gonzáles Brebe told MSNBC one thing she learned from this ordeal: “I never want to part with them again.”