Last Updated Apr 25, 2019 10:55 AM EDT
In our Separated and Counting series, we are focusing on families who were broken apart at the border and are coming together again. Manuel Bojorquez introduces us to two brothers, originally from Honduras, who were brought back together in New York after 183 days apart.
At Newark International Airport, a nervous and excited Junior Olvera stepped off a plane from Houston six months to the day after being separated from his 8-year-old brother, Andy. Junior said his little brother, who he's been raising on his own for the last five years, is like a son to him.
The two brothers, hoping to seek asylum, arrived at a border crossing in McAllen, Texas, on October 17 after a nearly 1,500-mile, month-long trip by bus from El Progreso, Honduras. The next day, Andy was taken from his 21-year-old brother, who is not considered his legal guardian.
It took 15 days before Junior could finally speak to his younger brother. Andy had been placed in a foster care center nearly 2,000 miles away in New York City with other kids his age. Junior said he could barely get through that first phone call since they were separated, because his little brother was crying. According to Junior, since Andy was three years old, his older brother is the only person he's known.
Last Friday was the day the brothers had waited 183 days for. For 8-year-old Andy, the reunion, which was made possible with the help of the organization Immigrant Families Together, was a surprise. Paperwork in hand, Junior walked into the center alone and minutes later walked out with his arm tightly wrapped around Andy's shoulder. Their oversized smiles marked the end of their seemingly endless journey apart.
They never lost hope they would see each other again, and now that Andy is back with his big brother, the soccer fanatic had only one thing on his mind: playing. Play he did, with Junior finally back at his side.
Junior and Andy are now back in Houston where they're waiting for s court hearing for their asylum case. A date has not been set yet.
In anActing Homeland Security Chief Kevin McAleenan says separating families at the border is not on the table. According to the Department of Homeland Security, up to 3,000 children may have been separated from their families because of President Trump's now-discontinued "zero tolerance policy." McAleenan told Sharyn Alfonsi he regrets the way the policy was carried out.