Photo Gallery The Lasting Trauma of Family Separation

A mother and her six-year-old son fled to Texas from the violence in their homeland of Honduras. When they arrived, young Samir was ripped out of his mother's arms. Two months later, they found each other again, but something had changed.
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Levis Andino and her six-year-old son Samir look out across the East River to Manhattan in early August. After being torn from his mother's arms at the Texan border, Samir and Levis were separated for almost two months.

Foto: Meridith Kohut/ DER SPIEGEL
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During their separation, a lawyer representing Levis visited Samir and had him draw a picture for his mother. This is what he drew. The children are Samir along with his older brother and younger sister, both of whom were left behind in Honduras with their grandmother.

Foto: Meridith Kohut / DER SPIEGEL
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After they were released and reunited, Levis and Samir found shelter in New York, where they are living until their asylum applications are processed. Samir has shown significant signs of emotional trauma.

Foto: Meridith Kohut / DER SPIEGEL
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In New York, Samir has received plenty of support from the Unitarian Universalist Church in Brooklyn Heights. Here, he is playing boardgames with two volunteers. In all likelihood, his mother's asylum application will be rejected.

Foto: Meridith Kohut / DER SPIEGEL
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Ricardo de Anda is a lawyer from Laredo, Texas. Shocked by mass criminal proceedings against migrants who crossed into the U.S. illegally, he left his business card at the entrance to a detention center. Levis called him soon afterward and he helped her track down her son Samir in Phoenix, Arizona.

Foto: Katrin Kuntz / DER SPIEGEL
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Levis' mother Lilian stayed behind in Honduras to take care of her grandson Jarends and granddaughter Luz. She works as a teacher in the only elementary school in the town of El Porvenir. But jobs are extremely scarce there and youth gangs frequently recruit young boys into their ranks and demand protection money.

Foto: Meridith Kohut / DER SPIEGEL
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Lilian has two sons who live in the United States and work in construction. "I would constantly look at my mobile phone," she says of the days right after her daughter Levis left with Samir. "I knew the stories about women being forced into prostitution on the journey or of cartels kidnapping children for ransom money."

Foto: Meridith Kohut / DER SPIEGEL
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