Luis Ernesto Rodriguez eyed the metal door as he waited for his little girls. Now 6 and 5 years old, they were his only children, inseparable, with thick black hair and mischievous smiles that reminded people of little mermaids.
More than two years had passed since he had last seen them. What would they be like now? Would they recognize him? He had shed 20 pounds during the long journey north.
The door opened and his girls bounded into the tiny room. They shouted and laughed the same way they did when he used to carry one in each arm on the way to day care.
But their smiles melted away when they saw the thick wall of Plexiglas between them and their father, clothed in an orange jumpsuit worn by detainees at an immigration detention center in California's Imperial Valley. There would be no hugs, no kisses.
The girls pressed their palms to the barrier. Rodriguez did the same. His older daughter showed him how to shape a heart with her hands. Rodriguez did the same.
"Be patient," Rodriguez said. "I promise I'll be with you again."
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