July 2, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A mother who was separated from her children on the Mexican border and who will be reunited with her kids tomorrow will be welcomed by Long Island City residents as she passes by the neighborhood today.
Yeni González, from Guatemala, was held at an ICE detention center in Arizona for 43 days after illegally crossing the U.S. and Mexico border with her children, ages 10, 8 and 5, according to several reports.
González was released last Thursday, several days after news broke out of her plight to be reunited with her three kids, who were sent to New York City and have remained here for a month under the care of the Cayuga Centers.
Since her release, brokered by her lawyer, a group of volunteers have come together to drive González from Arizona to New York to meet with her children, according to WNYC.
Her journey across the U.S. will end tonight, where the trek will take her across the Queensboro Bridge and past the Long Island City Courthouse, located at 25-10 Ct Square W, where a rally will form to welcome her at around 7 p.m. The rally’s organizers are encouraging attendees to bring signs in support of González, and welcoming her to the city.
A number of local civic groups will be at the event, including the Hunters Point Civic Association (HPCA) and the Court Square Civic Association.
“Queens and Long Island City welcomes immigrants, and separating families is wrong,” said Brent O’Leary, President of the HPCA. He said his group and members will be there to lend a large show of welcome and appreciation for González.
Prior to that, González will pass through 59th Street at Central Park, where another rally will be held at around 6:30 p.m. while she passes by in a car.
Julie Schwietert Collazo, a 40-year-old mom from Long Island City and one of the organizers helping González, said a press conference will be held at the Court Square rally, with attendees including Assembly Member Aravella Simotas, State Senator Michael Gianaris, and State Senate candidate Jessica Ramos.
Although González will be in New York City tonight, she won’t be able to meet with her children until tomorrow morning, as the Cayuga Center only allows visitors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to Schwietert Collazo, who is in contact with González’s lawyer,.
González will be staying in an apartment in Queens belonging to Schwietert Collazo’s friend tonight before she heads to see her children in East Harlem the next day.
While González will be reuniting with her family tomorrow, it is unclear what will be the next steps for her and her children. Schwietert Collazo said González’s relative in North Carolina has applied to become the children’s sponsor, and the application appears to be going through.
“The philosophy is to get the kids out of foster care as fast as possible,” Schwietert Collazo said. “And if that means going to North Carolina, that the case will be heard there, we’re definitely behind her.”
Schwietert Collazo, in conjunction with other volunteers, have launched a GoFundMe for González, which has since raised roughly $30,000, and helped organize her cross-country tip to New York City.