A 6-year-old girl whose tearful pleas to immigration officers were heard across the country in an audio recording has been reunited with her mother.
Alisson Madrid and her mother Cindy held hands, smiling, as they walked out a Houston airport early Friday, weeks after the two were separated at the US-Mexico border under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy on illegal border crossings. The policy has since been reversed after it drew international outcry.
The mother was released from the Port Isabel Detention Center in Texas earlier this week. Her daughter had been there with her until an immigration official called the girl’s name and took her away without explanation.
Alisson was taken to a facility in Arizona.
Madrid told CNN that she fled El Salvador with her daughter because she wanted to offer her daughter something more than the poverty and violence of her homeland. She said Alisson was once nearly taken from her arms during a kidnapping attempt at a market.
Alisson’s voice was heard last month throughout the nation in a recording that investigative nonprofit ProPublica published of children inside a US Customs and Border Protection detention facility. The children had been separated from their parents.
Alisson was heard pleading with officers to call her aunt, reciting for them the number her mother said she memorized during the 17-day journey from El Salvador to the US border.
“Mommy says I’ll go with my aunt and that she’ll come to pick me up as quickly as possible,” Alisson said on the recording that was widely shared online.
The person who made the recording gave the audio to civil rights attorney Jennifer Harbury, who provided it to ProPublica.
“I don’t want them to stop my father,” a child whispered in Spanish on the recording. “I don’t want them to deport him.”
Cries of “Mami” and “Papa” were heard. An adult on the recording compared the wrenching cries to an “orchestra.”
Madrid first heard part of the audio on the news and recognized Alisson’s voice. She had made numerous calls to the shelter housing Alisson and had not been able to speak with her.
“God put an angel in her path to record that audio,” Madrid told CNN last month. “That started everything. That person will be blessed more than any of us. My daughter helped bring positive change for the mothers. … She stood up for all of us.”