"We hope that in a matter of days they will be reunified," says lawyer Peter Schey

Juan Manolo has no words to describe the emotion that invaded him when the door of the shelter for unaccompanied minors opened, and his four-year-old son appeared from whom he was separated a week ago by the Migration and Customs Service (ICE).

"That reunion is the best moment of my life”, Says Juan Manolo who was able to meet his son Tyler for an hour at the Nuevo Amanecer Latino shelter located in East Los Angeles.

“He thought he was coming to take me, but not that he was visiting. I told him that everything would be fine and that soon we would be together again. He told me that in the house where he sleeps they treat him well, they give him food and there are other children he plays with, ”says this young 24-year-old father who spent days in agony without knowing where ICE had his son.

On Tuesday, February 2, Tyler accompanied his 38-year-old aunt Vilma to an appointment with ICE in downtown Los Angeles. His aunt was his babysitter, and he had no one to leave him with, so he took him. But ICE arrested Aunt Vilma and her eight-year-old daughter Thaily who also accompanied her. She was sent to a detention center in Texas.

Migration agents spoke to Juan Manolo to pick up his son Tyler, but when he arrived at the facility, before climbing to the seventh floor to take the child, he handed his documentation to other migration agents at the entrance, who made him see that he had a deportation order, and that he was also going to be deported.

Juan Manolo, an immigrant from Guatemala, asylum seeker was able to visit his son Tyler in a shelter for unaccompanied minors (Courtesy Juan Manolo).

Frightened and nervous, Juan Manolo decided to leave the place. Mayra Todd of the Mexico Center went for him and together they went to the church of Placita Olvera where they met with the pastor Arturo Corral who went to ICE to ask that they give the child with a power of attorney signed by Juan Manolo, but the agents of migration did not accept to give it to him.

A day later, on February 3 in the afternoon, Juan Manolo knew that the boy had been taken to a shelter. At the request of Gloria Saucedo, leader of the Mexico Center, lawyer Peter Schey, President of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Laws and leading lawyer of the Flores Agreement, which requires that migrant children be reunited with their families in the United States as soon as possible, He decided to take the case in his hands.

Schey got Tuesday, February 11, Juan Manolo could visit his son in the shelter.

"When the boy saw his dad, he was impressed. He cried over him; and hugged, the two burst into tears like little children”, Says Mayra, who witnessed the meeting.

Juan Manolo explains that he spent the time that allowed him to see his son, playing with him. “When I was leaving, the boy turned to see me and the tears came out,” he says.

The brothers Manolo and Vilma with their youngest children Thailys and Tyler before being separated. (photo courtesy).

At the shelter they had him sign a series of documents. “The social worker told me that they will do everything possible to give me the child in the next few days. I have a lot of faith so be it, ”he says.

Mayra external that the psychological damage done to the child and the father is very large. "There was a very large violation of human rights by separating them," he says. And he adds that the boy told his dad that he is afraid of sleeping at night, because he sleeps in a room by himself.

Juan Manolo and his son Taylor, along with his sister Vilma and his Thaily fled Guatemala and requested political asylum in the US on May 27, 2019. Days later they were released and they came to Los Angeles where they have acquaintances.

This tragedy began when his sister Vilma attended his appointment at the ICE offices in Los Angeles, without imagining that he was allegedly being arrested for a prior deportation order.

His sister Vilma, Father Arturo Corral of the parish of Placita Olvera, got him a lawyer who requested a motion to reopen the case and prevent his deportation.

Lawyer Peter Schey advocates the reunification of Juan Manolo and his son Tyler (Photo Aurelia Ventura / La Opinion)

High probabilities

The lawyer Schey who takes the case of Juan Manolo and his son Tyler without charge, said he sent a letter to the immigration authorities stating that the detention of the child was illegal.

“They are treating him as an unaccompanied minor, when that should only be when there is no parent available for childcare. They argued that Juan Manolo was called to pick up his son, but he didn't show up. By not doing so, they say they had to take him to the shelter, but that version is inaccurate because Juan Manolo, the same immigration agents in the federal building, warned him that they would arrest him when he went up to pick up the child, ”he says.

And emphasizes that by treating the child as an unaccompanied child, ICE violates the law.

He details that ICE transferred the minor to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) which in turn has a contract with a group, and this other subcontract with the Nuevo Amanecer Latino shelter in East Los Angeles.

“The shelter subcontracts with families in Los Angeles to take care of the children in the late-night because they don't have space to sleep in their facilities,” he explains.

It shows that the Nuevo Amanecer Latino shelter has 14 unaccompanied minors at this time with an average age of 12 years.

“The Flores Agreement states that children must be in places with a state license to care for children. It is not clear if the Nuevo Amanecer Latino shelter and the subcontracting families have those licenses. I already ordered the tests, and they haven't sent them to me. The possibility of not having a state license is a big concern”, He emphasizes.

On the other hand, it emphasizes that the government is obligated under the Flores Agreement to expedite the delivery of minors to their parents in a matter of days not months. "They wanted to give him only one hour per week for Juan Manolo to see his son, but again the Flores agreement states that visits should be frequent," he says.

The defender says he will fight until the last minute for the prompt reunification of father and son. “I already told the government that what they have done is traumatic, inhuman and torture, similar to kidnapping and retention. That child and the father are really suffering and I hope that in a matter of days they will be reunified, ”he says.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here