HARLINGEN, Texas — Wearing a Superman zip-up hoodie, the 5-year-old Honduran boy looked out the airplane window, pointing at the sky in seeming disbelief that such a large craft was reaching the clouds.
A few days ago Yancarlos Amaya was walking along the muddy river bank after crossing the Rio Grande and landing on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico. His mother, Celestina Ramirez, 28, said they turned themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol officers and later spent hours in custody, a night under a bridge and three more days in a detention facility.
Now they were on a flight from Harlingen, Texas, to Houston, then on to a connecting flight to Baltimore, where her brother’s family lives.
Even though flying seemed luxurious compared to her journey through Central America and Mexico and border detention, Ramirez was still anxious because it was her first time on a plane. She also hadn’t seen her brother for more than a decade.
“It’s been 14 years,” she said. She was just 14 when her brother left Honduras.
Her brother, Marco Ramirez, and other family members were waiting for them in Baltimore. As Yancarlos got onto the moving walkway at the airport, he grabbed the handrail, amazed it was also moving.
“I have never seen this before,” he said as he bent over to put his hands on the floor’s moving grooved surface.
Celestina Ramirez said she was relieved to be with family while going through U.S. asylum proceedings. Her son turns 6 in September, and many families with children just a little older than Yancarlos have been expelled under pandemic-related powers the Trump administration invoked and that President Joe Biden has largely kept in place.
“Thank God she is here. It’s a long journey, full of barriers,” said Marco Ramirez. “I am happy because now we have them here, at home.”