When she was two years old, Alexa Flores was separated from her mother by federal agents and sent to a foster family. Her mother was deported to El Salvador, but Alexa’s foster family became convinced the girl would be harmed by her mother if they reunited.
The foster parents sought, and were granted, temporary custody by a state judge. The case exposes holes in the U.S. legal system that could allow deported mothers and fathers to have their parental rights terminated.
Today, with hundreds of those parents deported thousands of miles away, the risk has grown exponentially.
Alexa’s mom eventually got her daughter back to El Salvador. But at 3 years old, the girl had spent a third of her life away from her mother and no longer spoke Spanish.