David Amaya Barrick was still a toddler when his dad took him from his birthplace in Chicago across the border to Mexico. And now, more than 30 years since they last saw each other, Barrick and his mother have been brought back together in an emotional reunion.
“I love you and I'm very happy to see you, and I'm not going to let you go," were the words Kathy Amaya told her son when they were reunited on Saturday in San Diego.
The meeting was not a simple one to arrange. The pair had not been in contact since Barrick was moved to Mexico when he was between 2 and 3 years old. Amaya said she attempted to track him down over the years but was unable to reach him through her now ex-husband or her mother-in-law.
“My father told me my mother had left me abandoned and orphaned,” Barrick told NBC 7 through an interpreter in an interview earlier this month. “I don’t know my mother, and I find out she’s been looking for me for 30 years, and I have the longing to meet her for the first time.”
Earlier this month, Barrick was detained by U.S. authorities when he was caught attempting to cross the border with a number of Romanian nationals. At first, authorities assumed he was part of a drug smuggling operation, because he was caught passing through a water treatment tunnel frequented by those in the drug trade.
However, Barrick told Border Patrol officials that he was in fact a U.S. citizen born in Chicago in 1977. When they confirmed this information, he was let go.
"They told me he was beaten and robbed before he crossed the border and the thieves took his money and his cell (phone)," Amaya, 60, told Reuters. "They said he seemed like a really good guy, and that he only speaks Spanish and I don't."
Barrick said he plans to write a book about his journey and plans to spend plenty of time catching up with his mother and other family members he’s never even met. His first stop will be Wisconsin, where he will enjoy Thanksgiving with his mom and four siblings.