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Border-crossing Guatemalan mom sues Trump admin for not saying where her son is

NBC News logo NBC News 6/19/2018 Pete Williams

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WASHINGTON — A mother from Guatemala whose 7-year-old son was taken from her after they were detained for crossing the border illegally sued Trump administration immigration officials Tuesday, saying they will not tell her where her son is, even though she has now been released from custody.

Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia said in the lawsuit that she and her son crossed the border near San Luis, Arizona, on May 19th and sought asylum. They were detained by Border Patrol agents, her complaint said, and two days later, her son was taken from her.

After she was transferred to the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, she was told her son was in Phoenix at a facility run by HHS's Office of Refugee Resettlement. She spoke to him once on the phone, she said, and he cried, "'Mama! Mama! Mama!' in a distressed voice over and over again."

She was released from custody on June 15th after posting bond, her legal filing said, but as of four days later, did not yet have her son back.

a man talking on a cell phone: Image: A woman holds her daughter outside the U.S. CapitolLeague of United Latin American Citizens acting CEO Sindy Benavides holds her daughter during a news conference calling on the Trump administration to stop separating children from their families at the U.S. border, in Washington on Tuesday. © Kevin Lamarque Image: A woman holds her daughter outside the U.S. CapitolLeague of United Latin American Citizens acting CEO Sindy Benavides holds her daughter during a news conference calling on the Trump administration to stop separating children from their families at the U.S. border, in Washington on Tuesday. Her lawsuit asked the judge to order the government to reunite mother and child and other relief related to her case. She did not asking the court to declare the government's current overall practices illegal.

Her lawyer, John Shoreman of Washington, D.C., said her case "challenges the United States government's forcible separation of a parent from her young child, notwithstanding the threat of irreparable psychological damage that separation has been universally recognized to cause young children."

Based on the facts laid out in her complaint, it appeared she was not subjected to the entire "zero tolerance" policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, because she was never charged with a criminal offense for entering the country illegally.

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