Three minutes to embrace on US-Mexico border

At 12:27 pm, she hesitantly walked toward a heavy metal gate on the US-Mexico border in San Diego that a US Border Parol agent had opened only minutes before, burying her face in her mother's embrace.

Three minutes to embrace on US-Mexico border

World Bulletin / News Desk

For 20 years, Laura Avila had yearned to hug her mother again. On Saturday, tears streaming down her face, the 35-year-old had her wish finally come true -- if only for three minutes.

Avila and her 11-year-old daughter were among six families chosen to take part in an event organized by the migrant advocacy group Border Angels in cooperation with US authorities on the occasion of United Nations Children's Day on Sunday.

One by one, each family was escorted to the opening in the steel fence separating the San Diego suburb of San Ysidro from Tijuana, in Mexico, and for three minutes -- under the watchful eye of border agents and a scrum of journalists -- hugged and kissed their loved ones who had waited on the other side.

"I last saw my mother when she was 50 and next week she turns 71," Avila, who lives in the Los Angeles area, said after the emotional reunion.

"It was an early Christmas present for the two of us, and a birthday present for her.

"She had to take a four-hour flight from Puebla (in east-central Mexico) to see us," she said of her mother who had been deported after illegally entering the US.

Saturday's event -- the fourth organized by Border Angels since 2013 -- took on added meaning for those attending, coming on the heels of the election of Donald Trump as president.

Trump vowed during the presidential campaign to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and to deport millions of illegal immigrants from the country.

Whether Trump pushes ahead with his harsh immigration proposals was clearly on everyone's mind Saturday as the families hugged and cried, with many wondering if it would be the last such event to take place.

"I am terrified," said Luis Hernandez, 25, who hadn't seen his father in five years.

His parents slipped into the United States through the border with Tijuana when he was five years old and his father was arrested and deported five years ago.

But Hernandez, like several of those at the event Saturday, was allowed to stay in the US thanks to President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

DACA allows immigrants like Hernandez who arrived in the United States as children to work and study in the country on a temporary basis.

But many of these so-called "Dreamers" now fear Trump will repeal the action, leading to tragic consequences to some 750,000 recipients.

Last Mod: 20 Kasım 2016, 15:40
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