With all the frustrating updates on immigration policies and Donald Trump perpetually touting his impractical border wall cluttering our newsfeeds, the story of Vilma Carrillo will warm your heart.
However, her story had a horrific beginning.
Carrillo is an indigenous Guatemalan woman who lived with her husband in the U.S. for a year as undocumented farm workers in onion fields and warehouses. While there, she gave birth to their daughter, Yeisvi.
The family returned to Guatemala in 2007 to care for Carrillo's ailing mother. That was when the nightmare began.
Over the years, Carrillo's husband grew violent, and she was subjected to frequent physical abuse, including having four of her teeth punched out and being dragged around naked by her hair. The violence made her daughter fear for their lives.
As a victim of extreme domestic abuse and with no legal protections in her country, Carrillo wanted to return with Yeisvi to the U.S. and seek asylum at the Mexican and U.S. border on May 10, 2018.
Mother and daughter arrived at the border around the time Trump's zero tolerance immigration policy was enforced, and they were forced to separate.
ICE agents detained Carrillo, and after discovering her 12-year-old daughter was a U.S. citizen, Yeisvi was taken to live under the care of a foster family in Georgia.
Yeisvi's American citizenship complicated matters. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered U.S. immigration officials to reunite the separated families within 30 days. However, as a citizen, Yeisvi could not be detained with her mother and was not subject to the federal ruling. As a result, their reunion was delayed for 8 months.
Finally, after 246 days, Carrillo was reunited with her little girl.
I can hardly believe it. Vilma has been reunited w/ her daughter, Yeisvi! They are in the care of a local family wh… https://t.co/qQOaXSp4Hp— Penn Badgley (@Penn Badgley) 1547340781.0
While she was separated from her daughter, Carrillo's story caught the attention of the media, and in particular, a Hollywood personality.
Actor Penn Badgley (from Netflix's You) teamed up with Atlanta's Tahirih Justice Center and even visited Carillo at the detention facility with her immigration court lawyer, Shana Tabak.
Badgley helped raise awareness with Carillo's story by writing an article for Teen Vogue, writing:
"Her treatment reflects the explicit use of fear as a tactic in certain U.S. policies. Vilma was being made into an example."
Thank you to those who followed this story, who signed, who responded with care. Some history abt this case and the… https://t.co/YMHW84HN7c— Penn Badgley (@Penn Badgley) 1547340782.0
Carrillo's emotional reunion photos tugged at everyone's heartstrings.
@PennBadgley @TeenVogue Well, I just cried. Beautiful reunion. Embarrassed to do this & SO putting myself out the… https://t.co/e0RIutfMSP— Heart,Sleeve ~Kristin ✍🏼 (@Heart,Sleeve ~Kristin ✍🏼) 1548796263.0
@PennBadgley @TeenVogue This made me cry!! I’m happy they reunited. I relate to this, I have family in Guatemala an… https://t.co/7MANw3LlEK— Erika Casado (@Erika Casado) 1548640090.0
@PennBadgley @TeenVogue This is so hard to read. Hits me in all the most vulnerable places as a mamma. So happy you… https://t.co/XPwClSKK8Y— Haley Abercrombie (@Haley Abercrombie) 1548610073.0
@PennBadgley @TeenVogue This is Amazing! So happy she is with her baby 💜— Heather Colon (@Heather Colon) 1547994750.0
Some felt ashamed that our country was responsible for forcibly tearing many families apart like this.
@CNN So glad they are back together but honestly the fact that we did this in the first place is grotesque and shameful.— Ken Urban (@Ken Urban) 1547607726.0
@CNN All for what really??? This so called "God fearing law makers" shall answer to God 1 day . This legit breaks… https://t.co/0itDli9BXH— Poncian Kamanda (@Poncian Kamanda) 1547608156.0
@CNN Finally. The direct hurt this president has had on ppl with this situation and with holding their paycks is si… https://t.co/tKKCcppu4W— i_love_lifee (@i_love_lifee) 1547644496.0
We're just happy to see mother and daughter reunited. The joy spilling from the both of them in the photo cannot be contained.
“I’m here to fight for my life with my daughter, to keep going forward,” said Vilma Carrillo, separated from her da… https://t.co/AttU6jjjH1— NBC Latino (@NBC Latino) 1547827853.0
@CNN GOD Bless!!!— Lonzo Franklin (@Lonzo Franklin) 1547606395.0
@PennBadgley @TeenVogue Say NO to hate and walls. #HumanRights— and del rey (@and del rey) 1547944725.0
Tabak said that Carrillo is ready to return to work in the onion fields in Vidalia, where she was previously, and is "eager to have the opportunity to contribute to society in that way."
Carrillo will apply for a work permit, which asylum seekers are allowed to do after 150 days after applying for asylum.
Tabak told Upworthy that Carrillo's faith is keeping her hopeful. "I'm praying for the best. Everything is in God's hands," she said.