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A son is separated from his father at the border, then comes a wrenching call

Esmeralda Bermudez, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- On the day the government rushed to reunite dozens of families separated at the border, one immigrant father showed up to a federal appointment downtown fearful that he would be deported without his 6-year-old son.

Hermelindo Che Coc came from Guatemala in late May to seek asylum with his son, Jefferson Che Pop, his attorneys said. His son was taken from him with little explanation, he said, and sent to a shelter in New York.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials asked Che Coc on Tuesday morning to appear before an officer as part of his removal process.

But officials promptly dismissed him because they could not locate his file, said Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director with Immigrant Defenders Law Center.

He left the court free for now but still no closer to being united with his son. His case underscores the confusion and heartbreak that has marked the Trump administration's efforts to reunite families this week. While some children were placed with parents Tuesday, many more families remain separated, not knowing when they would see one another again.

"I can't sleep. All night, every morning I pray. I ask God that he will soon return my son," Che Coc said. "I came with him. I carried him in my arms. I ask God to put him back in my arms as soon as possible. Without him I can't be happy."

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Che Coc came from Guatemala in late May to seek asylum with his son, his attorneys said. His son was taken from him with little explanation, he said, and sent to a shelter in New York City.

Toczylowski said her client's missing file was "further evidence of the chaos that's come from these border separations."

"Now we're going to do everything we can to reunite this father with his son as soon as possible," she said.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would not comment on Che Coc or his son. They issued a statement:

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