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The father of the tearful two-year-old Honduran migrant girl who became the face of the “family separation” news coverage says that his young daughter was never actually separated from her mother when caught by U.S. Border Patrol.

Instead, he says, his daughter and her mother are together in U.S. custody at “at a family residential center in Texas.”

Moreover, the mother had been deported from the U.S. in 2013, according to a statement given by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to Buzzfeed on Thursday evening.

Denis Javier Varela Hernandez, 32, told the UK Daily Mail that his wife Sandra, 32, had taken their daughter, Yanela Denise, on a dangerous journey to the U.S. on June 3 without telling him. They had since been in touch, he said, and he learned the two had been detained together but never separated.

The article goes on to state the following:

Yanela Denise became an iconic symbol of opposition to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, under which adults who cross the border illegally are prosecuted. As a result, children traveling with migrant adults are often taken to shelters separately until they can be reunited with their parents, a family member, or a sponsor.

Getty Images photographer John Moore took the famous photograph of Yanela Denise standing on the ground and looking up in tears while a McAllen, Texas, Border Patrol agent searched her mother next to a patrol vehicle.

The image spread like a California grassfire. Time Magazine used a cutout of the little girl on its recent cover, where she was depicted confronting President Donald Trump.

Multiple news outlets used the photograph as a symbol of the pain of families being separated by U.S. government officials. A Facebook fundraiser that used the photograph to solicit funds to help reunite families has already raised nearly $20 million, becoming the single largest crowdfunding campaign in the history of the social media platform.

According to the report, Hernandez told the Daily Mail that his wife had talked about going back to the US “for a better future,” but she hadn’t told him she was planning to actually make the trip, paying a coyote smuggler $6,000, and taking their youngest child, Yanela, with her. She left Hernandez with their other three children,  Wesly (14), Cindy (11), and Brianna (6).   Hernandez confirmed he has a good job, but said he is upset his wife took the child. However, he did tell the Daily Mail that his wife and little daughter are not separated, but are together in Texas and “doing fine.”

Breitbart shared a statement which ICE had released to Buzzfeed about Sandra Sanchez’s latest apprehension, as well as her previous deportation from the US in 2013:

On June 12, 2018, Sandra Maria Sanchez, 32, a previously deported woman from Honduras illegally re-entered the United States,” . She was arrested by agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol near Hidalgo, Texas, while traveling with a family member. On June 17, 2018, Sanchez was transferred to ICE custody, and is currently housed at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Her immigration proceedings are ongoing.

On July 3, 2013, Sanchez was encountered by immigration officials in Hebbronville, Texas. On July 9, 2013, she was transferred to ICE ERO custody. On July 18, 2013, Sanchez was removed to Honduras under expedited removal.

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