Salvadoran mother is reunited with her son after separation

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(WASHINGTON) — Arriving nearly one minute before her 7-year-old son stepped into the terminal at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., Brenda rushed to embrace Kevin, after having been apart for a month and four days, a separation long enough for emotions to run high for this family reunification.

“I couldn’t take one more minute without being able to be here with him,” said Brenda, who asked that her last name not be used.

Her attorney, Astrid Lockwood, interpreted for her.

“Today I feel like my heart was returned to me,” Brenda said.

However, Brenda faced a number of challenges before she could be reunited with her son.

Towards the end of May, Brenda fled from Santa Tecla, El Salvador, to the U.S.-Mexico border with Kevin after she says she was threatened by two rival gangs in the area. When the pair arrived at the southwest border of Arizona, Brenda said she asked for asylum and was immediately apprehended by U.S. officials.

Officials soon separated Brenda from her son and each was sent to a different facility.

Kevin was placed in a shelter facility in Miami for young children, while Brenda was sent to three different facilities. She was even mistakenly sent to an all-male facility in Arizona, Lockwood said.

However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the facility houses both men and women. It is still unclear exactly where Brenda was detained and under what conditions.

During their time apart, Brenda and Kevin had difficulty communicating, Lockwood said.

“I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. All I could think about was where he was, how he was,” Brenda said.

On June 21, a federal immigration judge authorized Brenda to be released on an immigration bond, an ICE spokesperson told ABC News. Five days later, Brenda was released from ICE custody after posting bond.

Her case is pending in the immigration courts, according to ICE.

Brenda is one of many undocumented immigrants who have been separated from their children at the border after seeking asylum in the U.S., a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

After the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed that nearly 2,300 children were separated from their families, a wave of immigrant advocacy groups and social justice leaders mobilized support from thousands. Facing an overwhelming backlash, President Trump signed an executive order last week to put an end to the policy.

However, a spokesman for the Amercian Civil Liberties Union remained unconvinced, saying: “The devil is in the details.”

“This crisis will not abate until each and every single child is reunited with his or her parent,” said Anthony D. Romero, the group’s executive director.

The ACLU was one of the first groups to take legal action against the Trump administration in Ms. L v. ICE earlier this year, after a mother from the Congo seeking asylum and her 7-year-old daughter were separated.

They were reunited in March.

On Tuesday, a federal judge rejected the government’s request to dismiss the ACLU’s case and ruled the challenge can proceed after the group filed for class certification.

Moreover, the group has collected more than 226,000 signatures for a petition to end family separation and numerous donations from supporters.

On Friday evening, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said families will be detained together during immigration proceedings.

“To comply with the Ms. L injunction barring parents in DHS custody from being separated from their children, the Government will not separate families but detain families together during the pendency of immigration proceedings when they are apprehended at or between ports of entry,” the DOJ said in a statement.

Lockwood told ABC News that Brenda’s next steps in this process are to complete a “motion of change of venue” to the Baltimore court. If the motion is granted, their cases can be consolidated and heard together where they will continue to fight for their asylum, said Lockwood.

“I feel strong, I feel positive now, now that I have I have my child,” Brenda said. “I know that it’s not going to be easy to fight the asylum case but I have faith in God that everything will turn out alright.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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PHOTOS: Fanfest brings the Stanley Cup to fans

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WASHINGTON — Fans rocked the red on Saturday at Fanfest for a picture with the Stanley Cup and a chance to get a peek at the team’s development camp scrimmage.

The event, which included a team equipment sale, took place at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Virginia.

Despite the blazing sun, fans stood in line for hours for a photo opportunity with the cup.

“We’ve waited our whole lives for it,” said Laura Witherspoon.

One of the biggest fans at the event was Zachary Devinger, who came with his mom. He’s a part of the Washington Capitals’ youth hockey team for players ages 8 and under.

He said being here today was the real deal.

“It feels like the real Stanley Cup in the real hockey game,” Devinger said.


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Virginia GOP chairman announces resignation

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia has resigned.

John Whitbeck announced Saturday that he was leaving his unpaid position next month. He’s held the position since 2015.

The state GOP is fractured and did poorly in last year’s state-level elections.

Many Republicans do not support Corey Stewart, a diehard supporter of President Donald Trump who recently won the GOP primary for this year’s U.S. Senate race.

Stewart is a conservative provocateur who has frequently mocked members of his own party.

Stewart issued a statement Saturday thanking Whitbeck. Stewart also said the next chairman should be loyal to Trump and his agenda.


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Virginia’s GOP chairman announces resignation

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WASHINGTON — Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia John Whitbeck will step down from his three-year post in July.

Whitbeck announced Saturday in a tweet that his resignation will be effective July 21.

The Loudoun County native said he “started this job with a message of party unity being the key to our success. I will end the job the same way.”

Whitbeck was elected in 2015 to serve the remaining term of former Virginia GOP Chairman Pat Mullins, according to the GOP’s website. Whitbeck also previously worked as the chairman of the 10th Congressional District Committee.


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Woman ordered to pay $5 for cursing at rally organizer

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A judge has ordered a woman to pay $5 for yelling curses at the organizer of last year’s deadly white supremacist rally in Virginia.

The Daily Progress reports that Jason Kessler sued activist Donna Gasapo for $500 yelling at him outside of a courthouse earlier this year.

Kessler was the primary organizer of the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally last year, which descended into violence. He said he sued Gasapo to preserve civil public discourse.

Judge Robert H. Downer Jr. ruled Friday that Gasapo could have incited violence when she screamed profanities at Kessler and ordered her to pay $5 in damages.

Gasapo’s attorney, Pam Starsia, said her client’s comments were protected free speech and she may appeal the ruling.


Information from: The Daily Progress,


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