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'Poster Girl' for Reunification Joins Her Mom

Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid is with her mother in Houston
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 14, 2018 4:00 PM CDT
Cindy Madrid, from right, watches her daughter Allison, 6, being embraced by Melanie Sandoval, 9, after Melanie presented Allison with gift during a news conference, Friday, July 13, 2018, in Houston.   (Marie D. De Jes's/Houston Chronicle via AP)
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(Newser) – A 6-year-old girl from El Salvador who became a face of the Trump administration's practice of separating immigrant families at the border has been reunited with her mother, the AP reports. Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid and her mother, Cindy Madrid, were separated after US authorities detained them June 13 for illegally entering the United States near Harlingen, Texas. Audio of the agonized child crying when she was separated—first published by ProPublica—galvanized opposition to the separation of families. Alison pleaded with Border Patrol agents to call her aunt, whose phone number she offers from memory. President Donald Trump reversed course on the splitting up of families on June 20 after a "zero tolerance" policy on illegal entry took effect in the spring.

The joyful reunion occurred early Friday in Houston. Madrid, 29, was released on bond from an immigration detention center in Port Isabel, Texas, not far from where she was arrested. Alison told reporters that she felt desperate after being separated and that it felt good to reunite. Her mother echoed that sentiment. "We are beginning to recover the time we lost," Madrid said. "We are very happy to be together as family again." The mother and daughter plan to live with family in Houston and the mother will seek asylum, Garcia said. The government now faces a deadline of July 26 to reunify more than 2,500 children 5 and older. A US judge has ordered the Trump administration to pay for the reunifications after one parent was apparently asked to pay $1,900 to see a child again, Reuters reports.

(Read more immigration stories.)

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