STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Father, son reunite after separated at border

After Alexander Gonzalez and his 7-year-old son were reunited after being separated at the border, Gonzalez says he would not have risked the trip to the US if he had known his child would be taken from him. CNN's Polo Sandoval reports.

Posted: Jun 20, 2018 11:27 AM
Updated: Jun 20, 2018 11:27 AM

It was an agonizing 36 or so hours for Ever Alexander Morejon Gonzalez and his 7-year-old boy.

Caught after being smuggled across the Rio Grande into Texas, the father and son from El Salvador were separated by the US government.

But on Tuesday, after being reunited over the weekend following a day and a half apart, they held hands like they would never let go again and boarded a bus from McAllen, Texas, to Florida, where they will stay with a friend who is a US citizen while Gonzalez awaits a date in immigration court.

The 38-year-old fisherman from a village in El Salvador said he was terrified when authorities separated him from Emerson Alexander.

He thought, "Oh my god, what have I gotten myself into? I'm losing my freedom and my child."

Gonzalez said he was unaware when he and Alexander left their home in El Coyol, El Salvador, on May 16 that the Trump administration had enacted a "zero tolerance" policy on people who entered the US illegally. He said they fled his homeland to escape the daily threats of violence from gangs.

"Had I known I would not have risked my son's life," he said. "I would have stayed in my country."

He said he learned he was being separated from his son when he was being taken to the detention center. He feared he had lost his son.

Officials there asked him if knew the rules about coming to the States, he said.

Gonzalez believes he was released from detention because he has no criminal record and this was the first time he had tried to illegally enter the United States.

CNN reached out to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement for comment and was told to contact Customs and Border Protection. When CNN called Border Protection it was told to call ICE.

Alexander told CNN he was kept in a facility with other children of various ages. He said he didn't cry but there was at least one other who did while they waited for food.

He ran to hug his dad when they were reunited and told him he loves him.

Gonzalez, who used $6,000 of what little money he had to pay a smuggler to bring him and his boy to the United States, will plead his case for asylum with an immigration judge. He was not charged with illegal entry.

The father and son were thrilled to be hopping on a bus for the 24-hour trip to Florida, despite the uncertainty of their future.

Their tickets were paid for by the humanitarian respite center run by Catholic Charities, whose volunteers housed and fed them after they were released, and sent them on their way with bags full of snacks.

The father and son also hope to one day be reunited with Gonzalez's girlfriend and younger son -- who had to stay behind in El Salvador -- in the the safety of the United States.

Gonzalez has to wear an ankle monitor and said he would be at his hearings. He wants his son to have a better life than the one of poverty and constant recruitment from the thugs back home.

"I'm hoping that things go well, so my son can study and be removed from the gang threat in my country," he said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 55947

Reported Deaths: 1654
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin17789819
Ramsey6861261
Dakota3942102
Anoka3327112
Stearns281720
Washington188643
Nobles17456
Olmsted162023
Scott136214
Mower10782
Rice9898
Blue Earth8485
Wright8015
Carver7692
Clay74340
Kandiyohi6701
Sherburne6387
St. Louis42719
Todd4182
Lyon4153
Freeborn3541
Steele3271
Nicollet30713
Benton3043
Watonwan2980
Winona24516
Crow Wing20613
Martin2035
Le Sueur1991
Beltrami1910
Chisago1761
Goodhue1758
Otter Tail1753
Cottonwood1710
Pipestone1439
Becker1421
McLeod1350
Unassigned13540
Douglas1290
Itasca12912
Polk1293
Waseca1280
Pine1260
Carlton1240
Dodge1220
Murray1221
Isanti1080
Chippewa971
Brown832
Meeker832
Morrison831
Faribault820
Sibley782
Wabasha780
Koochiching733
Rock730
Jackson700
Pennington701
Mille Lacs643
Fillmore610
Cass582
Renville585
Lincoln540
Swift521
Grant491
Yellow Medicine490
Roseau450
Houston400
Pope390
Norman340
Redwood300
Aitkin280
Hubbard280
Kanabec281
Marshall280
Wilkin283
Mahnomen231
Wadena230
Big Stone220
Red Lake190
Lake170
Stevens150
Clearwater140
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson40
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 45592

Reported Deaths: 877
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9709202
Woodbury364250
Black Hawk299762
Linn208987
Johnson191815
Dallas178735
Buena Vista178412
Scott159012
Dubuque152729
Marshall138324
Pottawattamie121223
Story111013
Wapello84531
Muscatine82448
Crawford7153
Webster7125
Sioux5932
Cerro Gordo58117
Tama53729
Warren5261
Jasper45424
Plymouth4438
Wright4411
Louisa37814
Dickinson3754
Clinton3123
Washington28710
Hamilton2391
Boone2282
Franklin2134
Bremer1877
Clarke1853
Carroll1811
Emmet1791
Clay1711
Hardin1660
Shelby1591
Marion1520
Allamakee1494
Poweshiek1468
Benton1421
Des Moines1392
Jackson1391
Mahaska13617
Guthrie1265
Floyd1242
Jones1231
Cedar1201
Hancock1162
Butler1132
Pocahontas1131
Henry1123
Buchanan1101
Lyon1000
Madison1002
Cherokee971
Clayton973
Harrison960
Taylor930
Lee923
Delaware901
Monona900
Humboldt891
Iowa881
Winneshiek821
Calhoun812
Mills810
Sac810
Fayette790
Jefferson780
Palo Alto780
Kossuth770
Osceola770
Mitchell760
Page740
Winnebago730
Grundy721
Union701
Monroe667
Worth610
Chickasaw500
Davis491
Howard480
Cass471
Appanoose433
Lucas434
Montgomery433
Greene380
Fremont360
Van Buren311
Keokuk301
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur210
Ringgold211
Adair200
Adams160
Wayne151
Unassigned70
Rochester
Scattered Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 67°
Mason City
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 66°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 66°
Austin
68° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 68°
Charles City
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 66°
Starting the week of dry
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Community adapting to changes at Rochester parks

Image

Fire-related fatalities increase in Minnesota

Image

Sean's Weather 8/3

Image

Campaign signs in Albert Lea

Image

Campaign signs go missing in Albert Lea

Image

Run the Woods race

Image

Don Bosco scores two in the 6th, stuns Newman for state title

Image

Pine Island holds community resource drive

Image

Pop up event for the homeless

Image

Seans 8/1 Weather

Community Events