Battle Looms over Nicaraguan Child in US Custody

Meylin Obregon, the Nicaraguan woman allegedly held by kidnappers in Mexico. Her 10-year-old son is in a Texas migrant detention camp.

Nicaraguan government wants to repatriate boy abandoned by coyotes on the US border. The child’s mother, Meylin Obregón, remains missing in Mexico.

HAVANA TIMES – The Nicaraguan Police said on Monday they are negotiating the repatriation of the Nicaraguan migrant boy rescued on April 1 at the southern border of the United States. Meanwhile, his mother, Meylin Obregon Leiva, is still missing in Mexico.

“I have a lot of faith that she will appear alive. I see that the governments are interested, and I thank them. I am not well, I am sad, I don’t want to eat…,” Socorro Leiva, mother of the 30-year-old woman, told Confidencial by telephone. She said that the Nicaraguan authorities have not communicated with her.

The boy was abandoned by “coyotes” in a desert area near the Rio Grande in Texas, when a group of migrants crossed irregularly from Mexico to United States soil. He left Nicaragua on February 8th with his mother and two cousins.

“The Mexican authorities reported that they have no records of entry or exit in Mexico in the name of Meylin del Socorro Obregón Leiva,” says the statement, while reiterating the request for support to Interpol to locate her.

Meylin (left), with her father Francisco and her mother Socorro. Photo: Courtesy.

In the Monte de Oro community, in the Muelle de los Bueyes municipality of the South Caribbean Region, place of origin of Meylin and the boy, there is great concern among the neighbors. Especially by Meylin’s relatives, commented her cousin Jerling Obregon. “People are extremely distressed, what is happening is sad,” he said.

Socorro said that she communicated Sunday, April 11, with her son who resides in Miami, Misael Obregón Leiva. He had denounced on April 8 that Meyling was being held captive by human traffickers in Mexico.

Misael explained that his sister was traveling with her son and two other boys, his sons. The group was trying to enter the United States illegally, but when they were intercepted by Border Patrol agents, only Misael’s children were received, while Meylin and her son were summarily deported to Mexico, where they were captured by “coyotes.”

The kidnappers asked Misael for money. He assures that he only had enough to pay for the release of the boy, who was left abandoned in the desert. He was found by an agent who rescued him and recorded the video that when viral in which the child is seen alone and crying. “Can you help me? They left me behind,” he says.

Dona Socorro related that Misael was worried, because when they called him to negotiate the boy’s release “it was quick,” but so far there is no news from his sister.

Her other brother, who lives in Monte de Oro, Ismael Obregón, is also concerned because he believes that with the media attention of the case, Meylin may be in greater danger. “It is not known how those who have her can react when they see the news, that the attention is on them,” he commented.

Government will request repatriation of the boy

Screenshot of the Nicaraguan boy abandoned on the border of the United States and Mexico.

According to the police press release, an inter-institutional commission, made up of the Ministry of the Family, the Police and the Interior Ministry, seeks the repatriation process of the boy and provides assistance to their relatives. Confidencial called Lazaro Gutierrez, the boy’s father, this Monday afternoon, who excused himself from speaking since he was with the police at that time.

“We will be accompanying the family, the father, to do what he has proposed, the formal request for the repatriation of his son,” Vice President Rosario Murillo said in a telephone call to official media, adding that the Nicaraguan Consul in Texas, Samuel Trejos, will visit the boy.

The little boy is in Casa Padre, a shelter for migrants in the city of Brownsville, Texas, under the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Meylin’s relatives would prefer that the boy stay in the United States. Socorro also asks the authorities to wait for Meylin to appear so that she can also decide on the child’s future.

Confidencial asked HHS about the child’s status, but the communication office responded that they do not provide information on specific cases. When asked about the number of children of Nicaraguan nationality in their custody, they said that they did not have an exact figure, but that it is a small percentage and that last year the vast majority of unaccompanied minors were from Guatemala (48%), Honduras (25%) and El Salvador (14%).

The reason for Meylin Obregon’s departure

Meylin’s relatives say that the young woman decided to emigrate after the separation from her spouse, Lazaro Gutierrez, who “treated her badly,” and abused her psychologically, Socorro said.

“I cannot stay here. I know why I say it,” she remembers her daughter exclaiming before she left. Meyling did not tell her that she would travel to the United States. “If she had told me, I would not have accepted because it is a great risk,” Socorro said in an interview with Univision.

“I do not understand why he offended her. She didn’t tell me that he was beating her. She only told me: ‘If you knew what he said to me, mom.’ I don’t know what it was, offenses…,” narrated Socorro, while claiming that the authorities turned a blind eye to a complaint filed by Meylin in the past. This happens in the vast majority of domestic abuse cases in Nicaragua.

“The child went with his mother. So, she told him (Lázaro): ‘I am going to leave him with you, but I am going to take the other one,’ and they reached an agreement: each will take one,” she added. Thus, the ten-year-old boy left with Meylin and the older brother stayed with his father, Lázaro.

The Nicaraguan migrant child became the story that symbolizes the dangers to which the 19,000 unaccompanied children and adolescents who have illegally crossed the southern border of the United States have been exposed to in the month of March alone.

Since President Joe Biden relaxed immigration policies and said he would not immediately turn away unaccompanied minors entering the country illegally, the number of children and adolescents detained by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents has doubled.

The detention centers on the southern border are overcrowded. In Donna, Texas, where the Nicaraguan boy stayed after his rescue, there were about 4,000 people. The minors had to take turns sleeping on mattresses on the floor, the EFE Agency reported.

Cases like Meylin’s are also frequent, criminal bands extort and kidnap migrants in their attempt to reach the United States.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.