To say that Maria, 23 from Guatemala, has lived through tragedy would be an understatement. Six years ago, gangs murdered almost all of her last remaining relatives.
They only left one unharmed, her niece, who was a baby at the time. The massacre of her relatives is clearly enough tragedy for anyone, but the violence didn't end there. When the gang returned years later, they murdered her partner and attempted to kill her.
So Maria, together with her niece, decided to flee to the United States.
But when Maria finally arrived in the United States, she wasn't welcomed with a smile. Instead, immigration officials threw her in detention and stripped her young niece from her arms.
They haven't seen each other since. Sign the petition and demand that ICE reunite Maria with the only family she has left, her young niece.
Now nearly a year and 2,400 miles separate the two. Maria is being held in Arizona, but ICE made the cruel and unnecessary decision to send her young niece to foster care in New York. Although Trump's cruel child separation policy has ostensibly ended, a US law requires border agents to separate children from adults at the border if they cannot prove they are a legal guardian. The law is meant to stop children from being trafficked. Volunteers helped Maria obtain birth and death certificates that corroborated her account of the deaths of her relatives and her relation to the young girl.
It still didn't matter. They were separated anyways.
Maria's only hope now is to be granted parole so she can be let out of detention, and the two can be reunited. A woman in New York has volunteered to house her and her niece, and several politicians are now throwing their weight behind her. As of yet, the government has still not budged. The alternative is too hard to bear.If ICE decides to return the two, they may not be returned together, and once they arrive in Guatemala, the US government is under no obligation to reunite them there.
The only compassionate decision is to grant Maria parole to allow her to plead her case outside of detention. Maria has a right to be with her family, and our government shouldn't be in the business of destroying families. Sign the petition and demand that ICE release Maria on parole so she and her niece can be together.