7 immigrant children reunited with their mothers in New York

Yeni Gonzalez Garcia, a Guatemalan mother who had been separated from her children, exits the Cayuga Center after being reunited with them in New York City, US, on Friday. (REUTERS)
Updated 14 July 2018
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7 immigrant children reunited with their mothers in New York

  • Gonzalez was driven cross-country by volunteers after she was released from Eloy Detention Center in Arizona
  • The children are 6-year-old Deyuin, 9-year-old Jamelin and 11-year-old Lester

NEW YORK: Seven immigrant children who’d been separated from their families left a New York City social services center Friday holding their mothers’ hands and carrying balloons, backpacks and stuffed animals.
A woman from Guatemala held her 5-year-old son in her arms, more than two months after they were separated. He and his 15-year-old brother have been staying with a New York foster family.
“I want to thank everyone who made this possible, because for me it seemed impossible at one point,” said Rosayra Pablo-Cruz, speaking in Spanish. “When it’s in God’s plans, everything is possible.”
They left the Cayuga Center in East Harlem, which has a federal contract to place unaccompanied immigrant children in short-term foster care.
Yeni Gonzalez, another Guatemalan mother, was given custody of her three sons, ages 6, 9 and 11.
“I feel very happy,” she said.
She thanked elected officials, her attorney, and volunteers who paid her bond through crowdfunding and drove her from the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona to New York.
She had a message for mothers still in detention near the Mexican border: “Fight because with the help of all these people you will succeed, and the help of God.”
Julie Schwietert Collazo was one of the people. She organized the caravan that brought Gonzalez to New York after her volunteer group paid $7,500 bond so Gonzalez could be released from detention. They raised a total of nearly $200,000 and so far have bonded six women out of the Arizona facility, with three more expected to be released.
Asked whether she had anything to say to Republican President Donald Trump, Gonzalez shook her head, no.
On Friday, a Honduran mother also left Cayuga quietly with her two children — one carrying a big stuffed bear and smiling.


Video emerges of Macron bodyguard beating protester in Paris

Updated 32 min 48 sec ago
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Video emerges of Macron bodyguard beating protester in Paris

PARIS: A video showing one of French President Emmanuel Macron’s security chiefs beating a student demonstrator, until now cloaked in secrecy, is drawing a fierce public backlash over what is seen as mild punishment and a possible cover-up.
The video of the May 1 event in Paris, revealed by Le Monde on Wednesday evening, shows Alexandre Benalla in a helmet with police markings, and surrounded by riot police, brutally dragging off a woman from a demonstration and then repeatedly beating a young man on the ground. The man is heard begging him to stop. Another man in civilian clothing pulled the young man to the ground.
Police, who had hauled the man from the crowd before Benalla took over, didn’t intervene. Benalla then left the scene. The second man was apparently a gendarme who Le Monde said had worked with Benalla in the past.
The uproar over Benalla’s punishment — a two-week suspension and a change in responsibilities — forced top French officials to address the issue Thursday. But Macron has remained silent. Benalla, who hasn’t commented on the matter, handled Macron’s security during the presidential campaign.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, responding to questions in the Senate, called the event “shocking,” but stumbled to respond to questions, notably whether all French are equal before the law.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said that the two men “obviously had no legitimate (reason) to intervene.” He said he has demanded that a police unit which investigates suspected criminal behavior by officers explain the rules for observers and verify whether they were respected.
Condemning the “unacceptable behavior,” Macron spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit said that Benalla was also removed from his responsibilities of organizing security for presidential trips — though he maintains his office at the Elysee Palace.
In addition, authorities launched a preliminary investigation that could lead to charges against Benalla, a judicial official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss an ongoing case.
Despite this, Benalla has been seen this month on the ground with police at several high-profile events, including the return home Monday of France’s champion World Cup team, an event attended by hundreds of thousands.
Macron, in the Dordogne region to officially launch a new postage stamp, didn’t respond to questions about the scandal. The upstart centrist elected last year had promised an exemplary presidency during his term to break with unending cases of corruption in French politics.
Roger-Petit said the punishment dealt out to Benalla was the “most serious” ever given to a top aide at the presidential Elysee Palace and served as a “last warning before dismissal.”
Opposition politicians expressed shock, with some denouncing a climate of impunity at the top of the French political hierarchy and asking Macron to personally address the issue.
The head of France’s main conservative party The Republicans, Laurent Wauquiez, asked on Europe 1 radio if the government was trying to “hush the affair.”
Roger-Petit stressed that Benalla had requested authorization to use his day off “to observe” security forces’ operations on May Day when marches are traditionally held. It was granted.
It was unclear why the young man under attack, who wasn’t detained, was singled out by police before Benalla intervened.
“An observer doesn’t act like that,” said the spokesman for the UNSA-Police union. They are typically equipped and briefed in advance, and the framework is “completely clear,” Philippe Capon told BFM-TV.
He couldn’t say why police didn’t stop Benalla.
The context was “special,” he said. “He was an observer from the Elysee. When police officials hear the word ‘Elysee’ there is a particular apprehension.”