Mexico City – The Mexican couple deported from the United States who won a judgment for custody of two of their four children in a Pennsylvania court via Skype will be reunited with them after 2 1/2 years.
Ashanti, 8, and Ashley, 4, will arrive here on Monday on a commercial flight from the United States accompanied by a representative of the Mexican consulate in Philadelphia, the family's attorney, Gustavo Garcia, announced at a press conference.
The meeting marks the end of a long process that began when authorities in Pennsylvania's Chester County decided to remove Alfonso Mejia's and Margarita Almaraz's four children from them on suspicion of abuse.
The couple, both of them undocumented immigrants, came to the United States about a decade ago and in 2004 Almaraz decided also to bring to the United States two children she had had in an earlier marriage and who were living in Mexico: Jonathan, now 15, and 14-year-old Vianey.
In 2007, Chester County decided that Jonathan should remain in the care of foster parents, and in 2008, it ruled similarly in the case of Vianey.
However, the family in 2008 received another order to appear in court, after which county authorities suspected that the couple was abusing U.S.-born Ashanti and Ashley.
Mejia and Almaraz, afraid of losing the girls, decided to return with them to Mexico, but they were detained by police in California as fugitives for not appearing in the Pennsylvania court.
They were eventually released without charges and deported to Mexico without their daughters.
Under severe financial pressure, the couple decided to fight in court to recover only the two younger girls and to leave for the future the battle for Almaraz's teen children.
With the support of the Mexico City municipal government, the family got the Pennsylvania court to allow the couple to appear in court and follow the court proceedings in a series of videoconferences via Skype.
That court dropped the charges of abuse allegedly committed by the Mexican couple and ordered Chester County to return the children.
"Today is an historic day for this family. It's a moment of reunification. They have not seen their daughters since January 2009, the last two occasions that they have been able to see their daughters have been on a computer screen, in supervised visits," said Garcia, who took the case on a pro bono basis.
The case "sets an historic precedent for thousands, perhaps millions, of Mexicans, who upon being deported leave pending legal matters in the United States," he said.