Immigration policy: Boy waits for Biden to stop painful family separation

BOGOTA, Colombia – There is heartbreak in Florida and in Colombia. A Venezuelan-American family hasn’t been able to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve together for three Decembers now.

Gabriel Villar recently celebrated his 11th birthday in Orlando with his grandmother and older brother. His parents, Maria and Asdrubal Villar, wished him well on a video call from Bogotá.

Gabriel is tired of the video calls. He just wants to hug them.

“When you are older you live with what your parents taught you, so most of the time your parents are supposed to help you, but they weren’t there to help me,” Gabriel said. “I was just by myself.”

His parents left the United States on Sept. 26, 2018, to renew the U.S. Visas that had allowed them to work in the entertainment industry. They said they had been traveling back and forth without issue for about 45 years until President Donald Trump’s administration turned a process that used to take a week into years.

Every day, sometimes two times a day, Gabriel kneels in front of a small Catholic altar. It has pictures of his family together. He always prays for a family reunion. President Joe Biden’s election gave him hope.

“I am very excited to hear the news about President Joe Biden reuniting many families,” Gabriel said in a video that his family shared on social media.

The video went viral since there are many other families in similar situations. He said he wanted Biden to know that he is waiting for his turn and he needs help.

For now, his parents, have their bags ready. Their U.S. Visa was approved, but they are waiting for authorization from a higher-up within Biden’s administration.

Maria and Asdrubal Villar said they are in a lot of pain. Every day away from their family during the coronavirus pandemic just gets darker. They don’t understand why they are being punished.

“I am a mom. I cry every time. It’s horrible,” Maria Villar said through tears. “My family is a good family.”

About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.