After traveling more than 2,000 miles on six bus trips lasting more than 50 hours over five days, a Mexican mother was reunited with her ailing baby boy in Memphis Monday afternoon.
Dolores Posada had been trying to get back to Memphis since last Thursday, when she was granted a rare 90-day Humanitarian Parole by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“Mi nene!” Posada yelled as soon as she spotted her 15-month-old son Ulises playing with his cousin in a tiny indoor play area inside St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Ulises looked up but didn’t recognize his mother, whom he hadn’t seen her since early September when she handed her baby to a relative who brought the U.S.-born child to Memphis to be treated for leukemia at St. Jude’s.
An hour later, mother and child were laughing and hugging each other as if they’d never been apart.
“Once they got home they were fine, it just took a little while,” said Hassan Osman, a case manager for Catholic Charities of West Tennessee who picked Posada and her 3-year-old daughter Yatzyry up at the Greyhound Bus Station Monday afternoon and took her to St. Jude, then to Posada’s sister’s house in Parkway Village.
Posada, 35, had been banned from the U.S. after trying twice in the past few weeks to cross the border illegally. She first came to Memphis six years ago, one of tens of thousands of Mexicans who have crossed the border “without inspection” and found their way here to find work and wages.
Ulises, her fourth child, was born in Memphis in 2011. In August, when Ulises was nearly a year old, Posada moved back to Aguascalientes, a city of a million people about 400 miles south of the U.S. border, to reunite her family. About a week later, Ulises was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Physicians suggested his chances for survival would be greater in the U.S.
Posada went to a U.S. consulate to apply for a tourist visa to bring Ulises back to Memphis. When immigration officials found out about her “unlawful presence” in the U.S., they rejected her application and banned her from the U.S. for three years.
In late September, and again about 10 days ago, Posada was captured trying to cross the U.S. border illegally. She was banned from the U.S. for 10 years.
A few hours after The Commercial Appeal reported the story of mother and child last Wednesday, Posada was granted a special hearing in Laredo, Texas. She received Humanitarian Parole on Thursday.
“Parole is an extraordinary measure, sparingly used to bring an otherwise inadmissible alien into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a very compelling emergency,” said Jenny L. Burke, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington.
After receiving parole, Posada tried to enter the U.S. last Friday at Laredo, but was turned away at the border with her Mexican-born, 15-year-old daughter, Aletvia.
Posada took Aletvia home to Aguascalientes on a bus, a 400-mile trek that took about 12 hours. She returned to Laredo early Sunday on another 12-hour bus trip with Yatzyry, who was born in Memphis.
She said it took her 5 hours to cross the U.S. border Sunday. She took a bus about 400 miles from Laredo to Dallas, then another bus about 450 miles to Memphis.
“Estoy cansada pero feliz,” Posada said, tired but happy as she rode to St. Jude Monday afternoon while Yatzyry fell asleep at her side.
Osman said immigration officials have told him that Posada’s parole can be renewed indefinitely over the next two years while Ulises is receiving treatment. He said Catholic Charities is trying to get Posada, Yatzyry and Ulises a room at either the Memphis Grizzlies House or the Target House. Meanwhile, they will stay with her sister.
“It should be a happy new year for this family,” Osman said.