By Elizabeth Elizalde and Marco Poggio
Cecia and Serli Tejada are a long way from home — about 2,000 miles away.
Without their parents, the 9-year-old and 5-year-old from Honduras are relying on the kindness of strangers at the Cayuga Center in East Harlem.
The little girls are among about 239 kids at the center who were torn away from their parents at the southern border last month under President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.
“The children are so beautiful and it just breaks your heart to see them separated from their parents,” said Ricardo de Anda, a lawyer for the family who visited the siblings Wednesday.
De Anda and attorney Michael Avenatti showed up at the Park Ave. facility to see the Tejada sisters and were initially turned away.
“This is an absolute disgrace. We will provide details shortly but Cayuga Center in NYC should be immediately closed by state and city officials. They cannot be trusted to care for children. Denying children access to their attorneys when the meeting is pre-scheduled is illegal,” tweeted Avenatti, the lawyer for Trump accuser Stormy Daniels and a frequent White House critic.
The lawyers eventually made it inside.
The youngsters’ father, Hector Tejada, came to the U.S. seeking asylum with his 14-year-old daughter Karen in January. While his petition is processed, the 32-year-old is wearing an ankle monitor and living in Galveston, Texas.
Their pregnant mother, Denise, 30, slipped over the border last month when Trump’s zero tolerance plan was in full swing. She is being held at the Port Isabel Detention Center at Los Fresnos, Texas.
“This is not acceptable,” Avenatti said. “This is not our America. For months now, this cruel and unusual President has been holding children hostage in the name of politics. He’s been purposefully destroying families to fit a political agenda.”
Gang violence directed at their family forced the Tejadas to leave Honduras, de Anda said.
“I could not imagine being a father and not having these girls around me,” he said. “It’s just unimaginable to me the pain that the mother and father are going through having these two beautiful creatures taken away from them.”
Hector Tejada has been fighting to see his daughters since they arrived in this country, the Texas-based lawyer said.
Trump’s harsh border policy separated more than 2,000 kids from their parents between April and June. A federal judge ordered the administration to reunite children under age 5 by Tuesday — and the older children by July 26.
De Anda said because of that, Denise Tejada, 30, could be released within a couple of weeks.
“My purpose was to let (Cecia and Serli) know that their mother loves (them), that their mother did not abandon them, that she was fighting for them every step of the way," de Anda explained.
“They might have her behind bars, but they have not incarcerated her spirit or her soul,” he added. “We will not rest until she is reunited with her children.”
There were happier scenes elsewhere. At Lutheran Social Services of New York in Harlem, a Honduran man who only gave his Xavier celebrated having been reunited with his four-year-old son on Tuesday.
“I’m happy to be able to be with my child,” he said, crying as he recalled the agony of being separated from his son in Laredo, Texas. “These were the most painful days of my life. Minutes were like days. Days were like months. I would never imagine that this would happen to me, that they would separate me from my child.”