Angelica and her daughter in happier times. (Angelica Rebeca Gonzalez-Garcia)
BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- The ACLU of Massachusetts and other local attorneys have filed an emergency motion to reunite a Guatemalan mother with her eight-year-old daughter.
At a press conference Wednesday, Angelica Gonzalez-Garcia spoke through an interpreter and made a tearful plea to be reunited with her child, who has been held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for over a month.
"The last thing she said to me was 'I love mommy, I love you with all my heart'," she told gathered reporters. "I'm desperate, I'm pleading ... she's a little girl, she hasn't done anything wrong. Why are they punishing her?"
She and her daughter fled from violence in Guatemala and ended up crossing the border in Arizona last month. They were detained together by ICE, but were eventually separated. The girl was sent to a detention center in Texas, while Gonzalez-Garcia was sent to Colorado.
Gonzalez-Garcia was eventually released while seeking asylum in Massachusetts, but her daughter remains in ICE custody. Attorney Susan Church said the little girl celebrated her eighth birthday away from her mother.
"She's had a horrible time in the shelter," Church said. "She was hit by another boy in the shelter, and had a bruise on her face."
Church says the government is refusing to reunite the two because of a failed bureaucracy.
"Because of a fingerprint delay--fingerprints that they already have," Church said. "They are requiring a totally different governmental agency, the Office of Government Resettlement, to re-take her fingerprints. The earliest possible date they gave her before an attorney became involved was July 31. It's outrageous, and it's a nightmare for this family."
WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Bernice Corpuz reports