The story of a mother and daughter who were separated in the Valley is now the plot of a new Lifetime movie.
Cindy Madrid and her daughter Alisson Ximena crossed into the U.S. illegally in May 2018 after making a two-month journey on foot from El Salvador. She says gang violence in El Salvador was inescapable.
“We needed to leave the violent situation in El Salvador,” said Cindy Madrid in Spanish.
Their immigration attorney, Thelma Garcia, says the two had no choice but to flee to the U.S.
“Cindy’s boyfriend is killed as they are walking,” said immigration attorney Thelma Garcia. “There’s a lot of gangs out there in Central America. They then come after her and the child, as well, and they actually attempt to snatch the child as they’re walking in some marketplace there in El Salvador.”
Once in the U.S., Cindy says she was kept in a detention center in McAllen, and then Port Isabel. Her daughter was taken to Phoenix, Arizona. They had no idea what was happening.
“I was so sad,” Cindy said. “I was so desperate to know exactly where she was. I have never been separated from her for so long.”
Three years ago, when the now 10-year-old Alisson Ximena asked what was happening, she said she wouldn’t get a clear answer.
“Sometimes, there was police that would always say I would be with my mom, but there were others who said we might live with other persons, that they were giving us up for adoption,” Alisson Ximena said. “I was in, I guess in a jail, if that’s what they call it. The cold in there was really bad.”
Garcia says a story by a ProPublica reporter helped bring attention to the zero tolerance policy.
“But it didn’t really come to light until Ximena was recorded or taped as she was crying out to the Border Patrol officer,” Garcia said.
After a month of being separated, mom and daughter were reunited thanks to their attorney’s efforts.
“I felt really happy that she was okay and that we finally met each other once again,” Alisson Ximena said.
While Alisson and Cindy’s story is not exactly common, their attorney says it’s one that’s relatable in some way.
“I think it’s every family’s story. We all want what’s best for ourselves, for our children,” Garcia said.
As of now, Garcia continues to fight for Ximena and Cindy’s asylum as they stay in Houston.
The movie called “Torn from her Arms” will premiere on Lifetime on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 8/7 p.m. central.