April 23, 2021

A November 21, 2022 report from the Texas Observer recounted Border Patrol agents’ separation of Raquel Andrade, a citizen of Honduras, from her 8-year-old grandson Joseph Mejía in Hidalgo, Texas. Joseph “had lived with his grandmother in San Pedro Sula since the murder of both his parents when he was an infant.”

Andrade did not receive the warm welcome she had imagined for her grandson, who calls her “mom.” Instead, she said Border Patrol agents accused her of “stealing” Joseph.

Andrade presented birth certificates to prove her relationship with her grandson, death certificates and media reports to document his parents’ murder, and school documents showing that she is his guardian. But the Border Patrol agent didn’t care, she said.

“They told me that the child was staying with them, and I said, ‘No, you have to deport me with him,’” she recalled. “He started to cry, and he hugged me, but they practically took him from me by force.”

After desperately begging officials to keep her and Joseph together, she realized her pleas were being ignored. So she turned to Joseph and prayed for the best.

“Papi, in the name of Jesus, nothing bad is going to happen to you,” she told him.

Andrade was sent to Mexico. Days later, she was back in Honduras. She didn’t know where Joseph was.

Joseph spent three months in an ORR shelter before opting to return to Honduras. During his time in custody, communication with his grandmother in Honduras “was sparse. They would usually talk on the phone once every eight days. But, Andrade recalled, when Joseph didn’t do his chores, like making his bed, sometimes officials would punish him by not allowing him to call his grandmother.”

— Brigida, Anna-Catherine, and John Washington. “Biden Is Still Separating Immigrant Kids From Their Families.” The Texas Observer, November 21, 2022. <https://www.texasobserver.org/the-biden-administration-is-still-separating-kids-from-their-families/>.

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Family Separation

Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Accompanied Child, Family Unit, Honduras