As his long-lost son walked toward him in an airport terminal, a sobbing David Xol stretched out his arms, fell to one knee and embraced the boy for about three minutes, crying into his shoulder.
He had not held the child since May 2018, when border agents pulled then-7-year-old Byron away inside a detention facility. They were separated under President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policy — the father deported to Guatemala, the son placed in a series of government facilities before ending up with a host family in Texas.
Nine parents who were deported as the Trump administration separated thousands of migrant families landed back into the U.S. to reunite with children they haven’t seen in a year and a half.
The group arrived at Los Angeles International Airport from Guatemala City on Wednesday night.
The trip was arranged under the order of a federal judge who found the U.S. government had unlawfully prevented them from seeking asylum.
Some of the children were at the airport to greet them, a powerful reminder of the lasting effects of Trump’s separation policy.