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A 10-year-old migrant who faced 9 months in custody

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 03:19s - Published
A 10-year-old migrant who faced 9 months in custody

A 10-year-old migrant who faced 9 months in custody

Anderson fled Guatemala when he was 10 years old, with his grandmother Blanca who raised him.

After traveling with a caravan, they were separated at the U.S. border.

Reuters followed their journey.

Havovi Cooper and Mica Rosenberg report.

49-year old Blanca lives in a modest home in southern Guatemala.

Over a year ago - she set out on a more than 2,500 mile trek to the United States, along with her grandson Anderson...who was only 10 at the time.

The pair's journey was a dangerous one- they sometimes traveled between swaying train cars or atop cargo pallets -- as part of a migrant caravan SOUNDBITE (SPANISH) BLANCA, MIGRANT WOMAN WHO TRAVELED TO THE UNITED STATES WITH HER GRANDSON, SAYING: "I went with my grandson, I went with him and I told him, because it was the holy week holidays, that we were going on vacation, I told him that and while we were traveling he said to me: why are my vacations only about walking and walking?" Reuters is not publishing the last names of Blanca or Anderson because he is a minor, nor will we show his face.

Blanca, who helped raise Anderson, told Reuters she wanted to flee Guatemala because her estranged husband had beaten and assaulted her and threatened to steal Anderson away.

Blanca wanted to reach Eugene, Oregon...where her daughter, Anderson's mother, lived.

But soon after arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, Reuters reporter Mica Rosenberg says things didn't go as planned.

(SOUNDBITE) MICA ROSENBERG, REUTERS CORRESPONDENT SAYING: "So when Blanca and her grandson Anderson arrived in Tijuana, Mexico, they presented themselves to border agents and they were almost immediately separated.

This is very common when families arrive at the border and they're not parents and children.

And she was a grandmother and he was her grandson so they were sent to different facilities.

Blanca was sent to detention in California and Anderson was flown across the country to a shelter for migrant children in New York...While he was there- for nine months- he suffered a series of difficulties with other children.

There were incidences of abuse that were shown in records and there were a lot of desperate pleas from his mother trying to get him out." His mother Wendy said she was allowed only 10 to 15-minute calls twice a week with Anderson.

She grew increasingly alarmed as the months passed.

(SOUNDBITE) MICA ROSENBERG, REUTERS CORRESPONDENT SAYING: "So at the time that Anderson ended up in a shelter, the Trump administration had introduced a series of new vetting policies for parents to be reunited with their children.

There was more fingerprinting requirements and other checks which created huge backlogs in the system, so a case like Anderson's that should have been processed quickly ended up stretching out for a long time." Finally, in February 2019 -- after nine months in custody -- Anderson was released to his mother in Oregon.

A few months later, Anderson's grandmother Blanca was deported to Guatemala.

Anderson got one last visit to say goodbye.

No touching was allowed.

Blanca says when they speak now, she tells him 'be good my son, be good'.

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