A Congolese mother has been reunited with her 7-year-old daughter months after they crossed the California-Mexico border seeking asylum and were separated by the U.S. government, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer said Saturday.
The daughter had been placed in a Chicago facility while the mother was held in San Diego, about 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) away, after they entered the U.S. in November and turned themselves in to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. The mother was released from detention earlier this month.
Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, said the woman was allowed to travel to Chicago from San Diego on Tuesday, after a DNA test requested by the government confirmed she was the girl's mother. He says the daughter was released late Friday and brought to a Chicago shelter where she and her mother will be staying.
"They were hugging each other and sobbing," Gelernt said. "It was just incredibly emotional."
The woman is at the center of an ACLU lawsuit accusing the government of unlawfully separating immigrant families. Gelernt says the ACLU continues to pursue the lawsuit on behalf of other parents, many of whom are "facing the same trauma" as the Congolese mother and daughter.