Maria’s day begins at 7 a.m., when she rouses her daughters for elementary school, and does not finish until late at night, when the kitchen is clean. Like many moms, Maria has found parenthood even harder since the COVID-19 pandemic pushed classes online.

But unlike most other mothers, Maria is raising Michelle, 11, and Nicole, 6, from thousands of miles away. She is in Honduras and they are in California.

U.S. border officials under former President Donald Trump separated Maria from her daughters after they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in 2017 to seek asylum. The girls were sent to a shelter and then released into the custody of their adult older brother, while Maria was deported to Honduras.The girls were among thousands of children separated from their parents at the southwestern U.S. border under a Trump-era policy that charged parents with criminal immigration offenses, while children were labeled “unaccompanied” and placed in shelters. Many children were released to sponsors, mostly family members, and hundreds of parents were deported without their children.

At the time, Nicole was still breastfeeding and Michelle was 8. Now Nicole has grown into a rebellious second-grader and Michelle’s period has arrived.

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