The father of the toddler from Honduras who became the face of the immigrant detainee crisis told the Daily Mail that he has not been in touch with his wife or daughter but was happy to learn they are safe.
Denis Javier Varela Hernandez of Puerto Cortes, Honduras, said he had not heard from his wife, Sandra or his daughter, Yanela Denise for almost three weeks until he saw the images shared globally that showed the two of them being detained in Texas.
One image in particular, of Yanela looking up at her mother crying, as she is being arrested has apparently affected so many that it became part of a Time magazine cover.
“Welcome to America”: TIME magazine announces its new cover that shows President Trump and the two-year-old Honduran girl crying at the US-Mexico border https://t.co/niOzBEzLzr pic.twitter.com/qZTSOac9Vm
— CNN (@CNN) June 21, 2018
Hernandez told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview that he has learned that mother and daughter are being held together at a family residential center in Texas and are doing “fine.”
“You can imagine how I felt when I saw that photo of my daughter,” Hernandez said. “It broke my heart. It’s difficult as a father to see that, but I know now that they are not in danger. They are safer now than when they were making that journey to the border.”
On Wednesday, President Trump responded to mounting pressure, even from fellow republicans in congress, and signed an executive order altering the policy, but critics pointed out that the move did not require that separated parents and children be immediately reunited.
Hernandez said his wife had mentioned a wish to go to the United States for a better life but never told him or any other family members about her plan to cross the border with their daughter.
“I didn’t support it,” Hernandez said. “I asked her, ‘Why?’ Why would she want to put our little girl through that? But it was her decision at the end of the day.”
Hernandez said his wife and daughter left home on the morning of June 3. The couple has three other children, son Wesly, who is 14, and daughters Cindy, 11, and Brianna, 6, the Daily Mail reported.
“I never got the chance to say goodbye to my daughter and now all I can do is wait,” said Hernandez adding that he hopes they are granted political asylum or sent back to Honduras.