‘Suffering’ ends with Honduran baby back with parents after US border separation

For months, the couple watched their only son grow up in videos while he was kept in US government custody.

Adalicia Montecino kisses her son Johan (Esteban Felix/AP)
Adalicia Montecino kisses her son Johan (Esteban Felix/AP)

A baby who came to symbolise the US government’s policy of separating immigrant families did not recognise his parents at first when they were reunited in Honduras.

For months, the Honduran couple watched their only son grow up in videos while he was kept in US government custody.

That is where he took his first steps and spoke his first words.

The parents got to embrace the 15-month-old boy again on Friday, five months after US immigration officials forcibly separated the baby from his father at the Texas border.

Adalicia Montecino holds her year-old son Johan (Esteban Felix/AP)

Johan, who grabbed the world’s attention when he appeared in a US courtroom in a nappy, at first did not recognise his mother and father after he was flown to San Pedro Sula.

“I kept saying Johan, Johan, and he started to cry,” said his mother, Adalicia Montecinos.

She broke down in tears as she talked about how her son had become a poster child for outrage over the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

“He suffered everything that we have been suffering,” she said.

His father soon won him over by playing ball. Within an hour, the tiny boy in an orange tank top, blue shorts but no shoes laughed as both parents kissed him outside a centre where they finished final legal paperwork before heading home.

“I feel so happy,” Ms Montecinos said.

Adalicia Montecino watches her son Johan get a hair cut (Esteban Felix/AP)

That ended the extraordinary journey of a baby whose short life has ranged from Honduran poverty to a desperate dash across the US border to the front pages of the world’s newspapers.

Captured by Border Patrol agents almost instantly upon arrival, Johan’s father was deported – and the 10-month-old remained at an Arizona shelter, in the custody of the US government.

Over the next five months, he spoke and walked for the first time and had his first birthday: his parents, hundreds of miles away, missed it all.

When his mother and father last saw him, he had two tiny teeth. Now he has a mouthful.

“I never thought they could be so cruel,” said his father, Rolando Antonio Bueso Castillo, 37.

Press Association

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