• Released by ICE, migrant mother a step closer to reuniting with girl heard in viral audio

    By: USA Today

    Updated:

    HARLINGEN, Texas — It's been a crazy week for Cindy Alinette Madrid-Henriquez.

    On Monday, she was struggling to mail a stack of coloring book pages to her daughter, who was 1,200 miles away.

    On Tuesday, she was called in by immigration officials and told she was eligible for release from the Port Isabel detention center.

    Thanks to an outpouring of support, $2,500 was raised in a matter of hours. 

    By Wednesday evening, she was ushered out of the detention center with claps from mothers who hope for the same fate. 

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    After a greasy burger, a hair appointment and getting mobbed by reporters all day, Thursday proved to be the most sporadic.

    Hours after wrapping up a press conference in Harlingen, during which she told reporters she expects to see Alison Jimena by the weekend, she found herself scrambling to board the last flight out to see her daughter after a month of being apart.

    Madrid-Henriquez, 29, asked that media not be present for the late night reunion. The Caller-Times respected her decision. 

    Alison, 6, will likely wear a dress she picked out in advance. 

    "Yesterday, when we spoke, she said she is going to tell her social worker that she’s going to find her best dress," the mother said from a Harlingen hotel lobby. 

    The mother and daughter left El Salvador fleeing gang violence. Her asylum claim was recently deemed credible, which led to her release. 

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    More: Immigrant children at detention center cry for parents in heartbreaking audio

    Millions of Americans and others across the world are familiar with the Salvadoran girl's voice. Her tearful pleas were captured in a recording inside a detention facility.

    In secretly recorded audio provided to ProPublica last month, Alison is heard reciting her aunt's phone number to immigration officials amid a chorus of wailing children crying out for “Mami” and “Papá.”

    At the time, the recording of the distraught voices of about 10 Central American children was the most visceral manifestation of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

    Alison's cries for help added to a growing public uproar that forced President Donald Trump to order that family separations stop as part of the policy. 

    Madrid-Henriquez is aware of the audio recording's impact. Her face gleams with pride when she talks about it. 

    "I think God used her," Madrid-Henriquez said. "He used all the people that up until now have helped make this possible. ... I’m very proud of her."

    Thelma Garcia, Madrid-Henriquez and Jimena's attorney, said it's an uphill battle from here. But for now, Madrid-Henriquez is happy knowing neither she nor her daughter will face those battles alone. 

    Follow Beatriz Alvarado on Twitter: @CallerBetty

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