'It's Very Hard Being There' : Venezuelan Mother and Children Freed from Hutto

Thanks to Jay Johnson-Castro for alerting us to this story.–gm

IMMIGRATION

Family divided at U.S. border reunited in Miami

A Cuban man has an emotional airport reunion after his Venezuelan-born wife and children are released from a Texas immigration detention center.

BY ALFONSO CHARDY
achardy@MiamiHerald.com

Immigration authorities Friday abruptly released the Venezuelan-born wife and children of a Cuban refugee who was paroled into the country on the same day his family was put in deportation proceedings at the Texas-Mexico border.

An emotional Ocdalis Gómez, 22, and her children Abel, 2, and Winnelis, 6, immediately boarded a plane in Austin, Texas, bound for Miami, where they rejoined Abel Gómez, 30 — the Cuban migrant who for weeks desperately tried to gain freedom for his family.

When Abel and Ocdalis reunited at Miami International Airport, the husband and wife held each other tightly for a few seconds while their children stared in awe at the television cameras trained on the family. Then Abel Gómez picked up the children, hugged and kissed them and proudly displayed one on each arm for the cameras.

”I’m immensely happy,” he said when he finally was able to speak, tears rolling down his cheeks. “Thanks to God, I am now next to my family again.”

The Gómez family showed up June 11 at a U.S.-Mexico border crossing near McAllen, Texas. As a Cuban, Abel was paroled into the country under the wet foot/dry foot policy, but Ocdalis and the children were detained and placed in deportation proceedings because they were non-Cuban foreign nationals arriving without papers.

Gómez is among an increasing number of Cubans arriving through the Mexican border. Figures released last week by U.S. Customs and Border Protection showed that 84 percent of all Cuban migrants last year came through Mexico rather than the Florida Straits. Cuban arrivals at the Mexican border have increased year by year amid intensified Coast Guard interdictions in waters between Cuba and Florida.

With a wide smile on her face, Ocdalis said Friday she was happy to be with her husband in Miami — but added she also felt deep sorrow for other foreign families she came to know at the detention center who were left behind while she was freed.

”I am extremely happy, of course,” she told reporters gathered at MIA. “But I also feel sadness.”

She paused for several seconds and then burst into tears. ”Some people qualify for bond and release, but because they don’t have money for bond they are deported with their children,” Ocdalis said, sobbing as she spoke. “It’s very hard being there.”

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