Baby stuck between 2 countries now has home and family in US

Because of the virus outbreak, the parents faced closed doors and unresponsive officials.

By Craig Sailor / The News Tribune

An infant and his father separated by an international border and COVID-19-induced bureaucracy were reunited last week in the United States after the boy was granted his U.S. passport.

Lucas Johnsen-Ayala was born April 2 to dad Aaron Johnsen and mother Karla Ayala in Culiacan, Mexico.

Johnsen grew up in Tacoma. He moved to Colorado in 2018 for a construction safety job. Ayala is a Mexican citizen.

The couple met online and began dating in 2015. Their son was automatically a U.S. citizen at birth but still needed proper documentation to enter the United States.

Normally, those documents would be processed at the U.S. embassy in Mexico City or one of several U.S. consulates. But, COVID-19 shut down U.S. diplomatic posts around the world.

The couple started the paperwork as soon as they obtained Lucas’ birth certificate in June but were soon faced with closed doors and unresponsive officials.

For Lucas, traveling between Mexico and the United States without proper documentation could mean being stopped at the border going either direction.

On July 3, Lucas was issued a Mexican passport and the couple sent in an application for Lucas’ Report of Birth Abroad to the U.S. consulate in Hermosillo. But, immigration processing had ground to a halt and Johnsen found it difficult to visit Mexico due to COVID-19 quarantine restrictions.

Johnsen asked Colorado U.S. Rep. Jason Crow for help. Crow, a Democrat, filed a congressional inquiry into Lucas’ predicament. Johnsen thinks that lit a fire under someone.

In early October, Lucas received his U.S. passport, and the family quickly made plans for a reunion.

Last week, Lucas and Ayala arrived in Tijuana and met Johnsen. But, more COVID-19 restrictions awaited them.

“When we got to the border, they said you can’t cross on foot if you’re a Mexican citizen right now,” Johnsen said Tuesday. The baby could cross but Ayala, using a travel visa, could not.

However, flying in to the U.S. on a visa is allowed. The threesome quickly booked a flight to Cabo San Lucas and then caught a flight to Denver.

The family was finally together on U.S. soil.

“Overwhelming joy is the best way to put the feeling,” Johnsen said Tuesday.

The couple had a non-legal religious marriage ceremony in Mexico in November. They have applied for a fiance visa, which they are told is a faster process toward getting Ayala her green card.

The family will return to Mexico for Christmas.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

FILE - In this May 15, 2019 file photo, the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River is seen from the air near Colfax, Wash. Environmental groups are vowing to continue their fight to remove four dams on the Snake River in Washington state they say are killing salmon that are a key food source for endangered killer whales. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Study looks at impact of ocean and dams on salmon runs

Fish recovery efforts should focus on the ocean, not on freshwater, says the BPA-funded scientist.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman talks to reporters in her office, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Wyman was talking about a series of election- and ballot-security bills her office is asking the Washington Legislature to consider during the current session. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington secretary of state certifies election results

Joe Biden will receive the state’s 12 electoral votes at the Electoral College on Dec. 14.

This series of screenshots taken from an iPhone with COVID-19 exposure notifications turned on for Washington state shows some of the information presented to iPhone users who are considering opting in to a new statewide coronavirus exposure notification program that was launched Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Washington state that uses smartphone technology in the ongoing effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. People with Apple iPhones can now enable the 'exposure notifications' feature that is already in their phone's settings, and Android devices can download the app, called Washington Exposure Notifications. Use of the service is voluntary and users can opt out at any time. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington launches statewide COVID-19 notification app

Modeling predicted significant decreases in infections and deaths if at least 15% of people use the app.

Visitors view photos of people who were killed by police in Washington State and elsewhere, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. Police have pulled back from a part of the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood near the department's East Precinct after recent clashes with people protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Lawmakers, activists set ambitious agenda for police reform

The bills being drafted represent a broad overhaul of policing and police accountability in Washington.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at Rideau Cottage during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
Canada: US border measures to last until virus under control

About 400,000 people crossed the world’s longest international border each day before the pandemic.

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2019 file photo Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, left, looks on as Suzi LeVine, right, the state's Employment Security Department Commissioner, talks to reporters at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. The state of Washington is calling in the National Guard to help process unemployment benefit claims as officials grapple with a backlog caused in part by a fraud ring that stole more than half a billion dollars in aid, officials said Thursday, June 11, 2020. LeVine said that Gov. Jay Inslee approved the deployment of troops who will start assisting her team next week as it tries to reduce the unemployment claim backlog.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren,File)
Washington state auditor warns unemployment agency on audits

She’s accused of hindering a probe regarding the theft of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Prosecutors: Hate crimes on the rise in King County

Two years ago, there were 30 hate crimes in King County. So far in 2020, the number is up to 51.

FILE - In this 2013 file photo, cone collectors like Gabe Thorne, of Hamilton, head up into the high country around the west to climb to the very top of whitebark pine and collect cones from disease-free trees in Sula, Mont. U.S. officials say climate change, beetles and a deadly fungus are imperiling the long-term survival of the high-elevation tree found in the western U.S.. (AP Photo/Ravalli Republic via AP, File)
High mountain pine tree that feeds grizzlies is threatened

Whitebark pine trees grow in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, California and Nevada.

Kennewick teen one of 1st children in state to die from COVID

About 15% of cases in Washington are in young people up to age 19.

Most Read