The curly-haired tot bows his back and looks away, as if to attempt an escape. The woman, attempting a hug, quickly grows agitated.
"I am your mommy, papi," she says in Spanish.
He squirms to get away.
"What is wrong with my son?" she sobs.
He doesn't recognize her. They've been separate for more than three months. That's a lifetime at 3.
The woman, once frantic with joy to see her son, gulps back the horror of realizing that happy endings are not always joyous when separated from one's child at the border.
What will occur when and if the 500 children still imprisoned at the border by the Trump administration are reunited with their parents?
Many of those youngsters will be jubilant. To many, their parents will be strangers.
Yes, 500 children. Five, zero, zero. Still separated -- in spite of a court order, in spite of what Donald Trump said would happen months ago.
Now, what does the Trump administration appear to be requesting? More time – and more detainees.
This abomination Trump said he would cease – after he said he could do nothing about it and blamed others. Then after taking fire from every direction, including his daughter and his wife, he provided just enough lip service to make us look away – much like little Papi now looks away from the face of his mom.
How serious was Trump about reversing the most inhumane directive since Japanese internment camps?
Here's how serious: Last week the administration sought to change the rules under which the courts have ordered it to act.
In question is the Flores Settlement Agreement, from a 1997 lawsuit over the holding and handling of immigrants at the border.
The administration wants out from under the agreement that has bound others before it and has limited the extent to which the government can hold minors in immigrant jails.
The objective, reports the Washington Post, is for the administration to be able to hold children longer and to rapidly escalate the building of detention facilities.
Under the rules of the Flores Settlement that the government previously agreed to and now seeks to change, children cannot be separated from their parents for more than 20 days. And as a member of the human race, let me pronounce the 20-day limit as atrociously long unto itself.
We aren't talking about ax murderers. We are talking about hope-for cleaning women and frightened asylum seekers. Papi's mom came seeking asylum from Honduras and found a nation more oppressive than what she fled.
The administration had a July 19 deadline to reunite these families. Reportedly it was "racing" to do so. Actually, the only running it was doing was an attempt at an end run on court orders.
U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee was having none of the administration's claims of being hamstrung about doing the right thing. She called Team Trump's court pleadings a "cynical attempt" to stall over an "ill-considered executive action."
Ill-considered. That's one way of saying it. What we've done to these people should make every American ill.
How about this, President Trump? Instead of jetting around to red-state rallies before people preening as cardboard cut-outs, you jet down to the border, look at the fruits of your leadership, and do what you said you'd do months ago.
Does anyone remember this "non-politician," this man of action, telling us how he knew how to get things done? Tell that to Judge Gee.
Of all the reproachable things this man has done, and the list is long (ask senior advisers), what he did to that mother and her child is the worst. The second-worst is what he's doing now about the fate of so many more like them: just taking his time.