The Torn Apart

Sarah Ferguson reports on the fallout of a brutal US immigration policy that tore families apart. She tracks the journey of one mother seeking to reunite with her children after four painful years alone. “I begged them to please not take my mom. I told them that it would be better if they deported us to Mexico instead of separating her from me, but they told me…that I had to say goodbye.” It was condemned as cruel and inhumane. But before the US courts struck it down, Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the US-Mexico border did its work. Over 5000 children were removed. While many children stayed in the US, hundreds of parents were deported. Four years later, some families are finding each other again. In a Foreign Correspondent exclusive, Sarah Ferguson tells the powerful story of the first family to reunite since President Biden took office. The family of Honduran mother Keldy Gonzáles Brebe was one of the first to be caught up in a secretive US immigration program run in 2017. Its aim was to deter would-be migrants by separating parents from children. When Keldy crossed the US border into New Mexico in 2017, immigration officials separated her from her two sons, aged 13 and 15. “They told us they were going to separate us from her, that they were going to take us to a juvenile detention centre. I begged the immigration officers to let us go with her, but they said…I had to be separated from her”, says Keldy’s son Patrick, now 19. “From there I lost so many things from not seeing my children. I lost seeing their adolescence. I couldn’t be with them for four years’, Keldy tells Foreign Correspondent. For four years, Keldy marked time in Mexico. Then, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), she received the news she’d been waiting for. We follow Keldy from Mexico to Philadelphia, where her children now live, for the unforgettable scenes of mother and child reunion. We follow her story to Honduras to understand why she fled her home country, meet her family and friends on the Caribbean Coast and see first-hand the brutal violence that drove her to leave. After organising the execution of her brother, the notorious Honduran gang MS-13 threatened to kill Keldy too. We speak to lawyer Lee Gelernt from the ACLU who fought Trump’s immigration policy in the courts and is now helping to bring families back together. “I wanted to be here to see this first reunification”, says Gelernt. “I think you can’t really understand until you see it.’

  • Reporter: Sarah Ferguson
  • Producer: Tony Jones
  • Digital producer: Matt Henry
  • Photography: David Peinado, Hannah Yoon and Tony Jones
  • Cinematography: Bruno Federico