The voice of Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid was heard by countless people after ProPublica published a secret recording of children sobbing and screaming for their parents after being separated at the southern border.
In the recording, Alison Jimena, who is from El Salvador, could be heard begging to call her aunt and even reciting her phone number, which she had memorized.
“My mommy says that I’ll go with my aunt and that she’ll come to pick me up there as quickly as possible,” Alison Jimena says in Spanish in the recording.
The audio became an emotional rallying cry for critics of the Trump administration’s harsh family separation policy, which has resulted in close to 3,000 children being separated from their parents.
Madrid had been held at a detention facility in South Texas until her release Wednesday, while Alison Jimena had been staying at a shelter in Phoenix, ProPublica reported.
Thursday evening, Alison Jimena was flown from Phoenix to Houston, and Madrid and her lawyer drove about six hours to greet her. At the airport, they reunited, and left together around 3 a.m. Friday.
In an earlier interview with ProPublica about how it would feel to reunite with Alison Jimena, Madrid said, “I’ll be the happiest woman in the world. It’s been very painful to be apart.”
Playing with a Little Mermaid doll and frequently resting her head on her mother’s shoulder, the 6-year-old said she “missed her mother” during the month they were separated.
Madrid said she’s “very thankful” to the person who leaked the recording and that she’s “so proud of my daughter” for becoming the voice of the fight to reunify families.
“The only reason we’re here is to get a better life,” said Madrid.
When asked if she had anything to say to the other children still separated from their parents, Alison Jimena said she believes “they’re going to have a happy ending.”
“Be patient that there is something good coming,” she said.