ELOY, Ariz. - She was somewhere in the desert, past the guard, past the chain-linked fence and barbed wire, in an immigration detention center about an hour south of Phoenix.
Her name is Rosayra Pablo-Cruz, a 35-year-old Guatemalan mother with a story similar to other immigrant parents of about 3,000 children, about 300 of whom have been taken to New York.
She came from the detention center in good spirits, happy to see the members of our team. She had her hands clasped in front of her, appearing calm and in control, but her demeanor changed as she started to describe what it was like to lose her children.
"The most desperate moment was when they took away my children in the 'Icebox,'" Pablo-Cruz said in Spanish, in tears. "They ripped them away from me. They told me they were going to take them. And I said, 'Oh my God, where to? Where to? What am I going to do?'"
They were 15-year-old Yordi Alberto and 5-year-old Fernando Jose. Violence and gang threats prompted her to flee with them. It was April 8.
A week later, she crossed to San Luis, Arizona, where authorities captured them. They put them in a detention center nicknamed the "Icebox" for how cold the temperature is.
The older one slept in a different area. Pablo-Cruz said the little one was taken from her as they slept. She said it was 2 a.m.
She ended up in Eloy, Arizona, finding out in the first week of May that the kids were nearly 2,500 miles away in New York City.
"All the people who are here come with a need. If in our countries we didn't have needs, nobody would leave their countries," Pablo-Cruz said. "I didn't want to leave my country. I have my family there, I have two daughters there, I have a mother. I didn't want to leave my country."
A Bronx-based lawyer got her out with a $12,000 bond crowd-sourced by a New York City group.
It formed in a rush when news of federal agents secretly separating kids from their parents drew international attention.
Jose Xavier Orochena helped another woman be freed from Eloy. Yeny Gonzalez reunited with her kids on July 3. He was dressed casually as he accompanied Pablo-Cruz, sporting a beige fedora and jeans.
The Army veteran serves as more than counsel, taking Pablo-Cruz and two other mothers released the same day to a local JCPenney.
They left detention not even with shoelaces, apparently taken out of their sneakers for fear they'd hang themselves.
"The plan now is to get them to their kids. One mother is going to Harlem, New York to pick up two of her kids. One woman is going to Houston to try her child out of foster care. And one mother, thankfully, her children are out of custody and are waiting for her."
Back at JCPenney, a Sephora sales clerk, Kaitlyn McKeever, heard their stories and prepared for them a gift bag. The clerk mentioned that her father just retired from U.S. Border Patrol.
"Kids they don't have a choice. Personally, I don't think any child should be taken from their parents," McKeever said. "It's unfortunate. People are people. But hopefully it works out, gets better for her."
With new clothes in hand, they went to dinner with the wife of a local immigration lawyer.
At a Phoenix hotel, Orochena got them a room. The following morning, more volunteers would begin the drive to the other women's children.
For Pablo-Cruz, the challenges would not end there. She still didn't know how or when she would see her children. She didn't have her Guatemalan passport and even if she did, it may not allow her to fly to New York.
Her next step would be to go back to Eloy in the hopes that officials would return the passport. Soon after finally being freed, she'd have to face the very same place she'd fought to get away from for so long.