Houston Chronicle | Immigrant mother separated from her daughters reaches out with a letter
Denis Yudith Santos drew 19 flowers around the edge of the torn-out piece of paper.
“It’s heartbreaking to speak with her because it’s obvious that she’s not complete, that there’s a big piece of her that’s missing,” said Ricardo de Anda, Yudith Santos’ pro bono lawyer.
The piece of her that’s missing is drawn in the middle of the paper.
It’s two little girls, wearing crowns and poufy dresses. “My princesses,” she calls them.
Recently, she wrote them a message telling them that everything was going to be OK, and gave it to de Anda.
Translation of Yudith Santos’ letter to her daughters:
Hello, my beautiful daughters,
How are you? I hope you’re good. I want you to feel good. To not be sad, to know that everything will turn out OK, God willing. Soon we’ll be together again. Don’t despair because everything will turn out OK. And we’ll reunite with your father and your sister Karen. Have a lot of fun, make sure you eat and feel good. Because if you’re good, then I also feel good. Behave yourselves, girls. Listen to what the woman who cares for you tells you. Soon I’ll talk with you two. Your father is going to keep calling you so you feel good. I love you so much, my beautiful girls. You are my princesses, and I miss you so much.
Sincerely, Your mommy, who loves you and misses you so much. Take care of yourselves.
Fleeing gang violence in Honduras, Yudith Santos made her way up the spine of Central America, trekking some 1,400 miles with her two young daughters. On June 2, hours after she crossed the Rio Grande, she presented herself to Border Patrol agents.
Her two daughters were taken from her.
That same day, she was transferred to the Port Isabel Detention center in Los Fresnos.
She’s been separated from her 5-year-old, Serli, and her 9-year-old, Tecia, ever since.
“It shows in her face, and the way she carries herself. She’s overcome with the grief — not only of the separation but of what her daughters must think of her,” de Anda said.
“Children don’t think in the abstract, they only think in concrete terms. What’s in front of them. They don’t know of immigration or borders policy. They only know that their mother is not there,” he added.
Yudith Santos, at the detention facility, was not reachable for comment.
The letter is on a torn-out page from an informational packet that de Anda hands out to all of his asylum-seeking clients preparing for their credible fear interview. Yudith Santos has yet to take hers, but de Anda said he’s confident she will pass it.
On Tuesday, de Anda is flying to New York’s Cayuga Centers shelter to deliver the mother’s message and check in on her two daughters.
“I hope you’re good. I want you to feel good. To not be sad, to know that everything will turn out OK,” reads the letter in Spanish.
She was fleeing police-supported gang violence in Honduras, de Anda said.
Yudith Santos asks her daughter to behave, to eat well and to list to their caretaker. She assures them that they’ll reunite soon.
“I love you so much my beautiful girls,” the letter closes. “You are my princesses and I miss you so much.”