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Mother and son hug on the border yesterday. Mother and son embrace during yesterday's event.

3 minutes of hugs on the border yesterday

Event reunites Mexican migrants with families they left behind

There was an emotion-filled encounter on the northern border yesterday when family members were reunited in a state-sanctioned relaxing of the rules.

The event billed as Hugs Not Walls lasted only three minutes, but it was an unprecedented opportunity for migrants who had gone north to hug and hold family members who had stayed behind. For some it was the first physical contact in 10 years or more.

It had been a decade since Yesenia, who lives in Ciudad Juárez, had hugged her mother, Sandra, who left Mexico to enter the United States as an illegal immigrant. For Sandra, it was also her first opportunity to hold her six-year-old granddaughter, whom she had seen only in photographs.

Mother and daughter and other family members remain in contact by telephone and social media. “But a hug from your mother, after many years, is not the same,” Yesenia told the newspaper Reforma.

Other, similar scenes were repeated in the muddy riverbed where families were reunited under the watchful eyes of both Mexican and U.S. authorities near the Paso del Norte International Bridge between Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and El Paso, Texas.

Among the event’s organizers was the Hope Border Institute, whose executive director described it as unprecedented and historic. “. . . never in history has such an encounter been possible, these hugs among families,” said Dylan Corbett, observing that the reunion highlighted the value of family in contrast to what he saw as the promotion of racism and division currently under way north of the border.

“Today in the United States, in the middle of the presidential election campaign, a culture of division, of racism, of hate, of xenophobia is being promoted, one that is making our border a place of division,” he said.

“No to the militarization of the border, no to the division of families; we are here to ask the government [of the U.S.] to stop deportation . . . and the separation of families.”

Source: Reforma (sp)

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