A mother and daughter who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border in June have finally been reunited one month after a secret recording captured the little girl begging for a phone call.
Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid, 6, had a tearful reunion with her mother, Cindy Madrid, at a Houston airport on Friday morning.
The two looked exhausted but relieved to be together again as they waved at cameras from the inside of a van in which Alison sat on her mother’s lap, in a video taken by ProPublica.
Alison was first introduced to the world as a single, persistent voice in a leaked audio recording in which a reported Border Patrol agent was heard laughing as several kids cried out for their parents after being separated.
The little girl continuously asked agents and consular representatives for one phone call to her aunt, who lived in the United States.
Alison explained she had memorized her aunt’s phone number in the case of an emergency.
“Can I go with my aunt at least? I want my aunt to come to take me to her house. I have her number,” she is heard saying in Spanish.
She continues insisting the representatives call her aunt as two of them discussed feeding the children while a little boy in the background continued to cry for his father, yelling, “Papi! Papi!”
One month later, she was reunited with her mother after a last-minute government handoff, according to ProPublica.
Alison was flown to Houston, Texas, on Thursday where the outlet reported she kept herself awake all night in a terminal with her crayons and coloring books.
Her mother Cindy, along with her lawyer, rushed to pick up the little girl after being told of her daughter’s whereabouts, the publication reported.
Speaking to reporters later in the day, Alison was asked what advice she would give to thousands of others still waiting to be reunited with their loved ones.
“To be patient, that they’ll see their parents again,” she told reporters. “And that soon they’ll have a better future.”
Madrid’s lawyer told ProPublica Alison “had a bit of an emotional meltdown at the first sight of her mother.”
Cindy had previously told the publication that she would “be the happiest woman in the world” if she was reunited with her daughter.
“It’s been very painful to be apart,” she said.
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The single mother from El Salvador said she had fled her country due to gang violence. Now in the U.S., Cindy questioned the actions of the government, telling ProPublica, “It’s unfair what they are doing to the adults. But what they’re doing to children is worse,” she said, adding, “They’re harming them, possibly for life. What’s the point of that?”
Since May, Trump’s “zero tolerance policy” has resulted in 2,342 children being removed from their parents who crossed the Southern border and face prosecution for illegal entry.
After Trump faced international backlash due to his “zero tolerance” policy, he signed an executive order reversing his administration’s policy in late June.