Wednesday evening, officials at a Texas detention center released Cindy Madrid, the undocumented mother whose daughter Jimena’s cries for help in an audio recording helped show the impact of the Trump administration’s family separation policy.
Alejandro Alamillo, who manages the law office of Madrid’s lawyer Thelma Garcia, confirmed to HuffPost Thursday that Madrid was released from a South Texas detention center around 6 p.m. Wednesday and that she stayed overnight at a nearby motel.
Early Friday morning, mother and daughter were reunited in Arizona, where Jimena had been held, according to ProPublica reporter Ginger Thompson, who obtained the initial audio recording published on June 18 and has since been documenting their journey.
Under the Trump adminstration’s zero tolerance policy on immigration, Border Patrol agents separated Cindy and Jimena, both migrants from El Salvador, at the border in Texas in June.
The widely played and circulated recording of Jimena after their separation gave new emotional resonance to the Trump administration’s highly criticized policy. The audio gave a voice to the detained children and shed light on their dire conditions. It was played on Capitol Hill and in the White House press briefing room, and featured in campaign ads from progressive organizations targeting Republican lawmakers.
“My mommy says that I’ll go with my aunt, and that she will come to pick me up there as quickly as possible so I can go with her,” Jimena says in the recording. The 6-year-old girl can be heard repeatedly begging officials to call her aunt, whose phone number she recites from memory.
In the recording, a Border Patrol agent can be heard joking about the children’s crying.
“Well, we have an orchestra here,” the agent says. “What’s missing is a conductor.”
A consular officer eventually called the number that Jimena recited, which enabled her aunt, Cindy Madrid’s sister, who lives in Houston, to identify her. The aunt then relayed messages between Madrid and her daughter. Last week, Thompson reported that Jimena and Madrid had spoken via phone.
Amid weeks of protests and condemnation, Trump administration officials resorted to misleading arguments and false talking points in an attempt to justify the family separation policy. President Donald Trump later reversed the policy, but officials will continue to detain families “indefinitely.”
A federal judge ordered government officials to reunite all of the children with their parents by July 26. The government was supposed to reunite all children under the age of 5 by Tuesday, but as of Thursday morning, 46 children under the age of 5 had still not been reunited with their parents, according to Trump administration officials.
This story has been updated to reflect that Cindy and Jimena were reunited early Friday morning.