Hugs in the middle of the US-Mexico border alleviate the drama of irregular migration

On an improvised bridge over the river that demarcates the border between Mexico and the United States, hundreds of families separated by the drama of irregular migration embraced each other, some after spending more than 20 years without seeing each other.

Epifanio Carrillo, a resident of Ciudad Juárez who had only been on the phone with his 38-year-old son, Arturo, for 16 years, arrived very early. On his hand was written the number 144, the shift he was assigned.

"Hugging him is a great satisfaction, that moment fills a hole that exists in our hearts as parents."The 75-year-old man said crying to AFP after the long-awaited meeting.

The event "hugs not walls" ("Hugs not walls"), Organized since 2016 by American civil organizations that support undocumented migrants, it brought together members of 210 families who had not seen each other for years on Saturday.

Smiles and tears, plus warm hugssymbolically erased the border between the Mexican Ciudad Juárez and the American El Paso.

Even the feared border patrol of the United States gave up its surveillance for the reunion, carried out a few meters from the enormous wall that divides both countries, in an area that is usually prohibited.

A replica of the Statue of Liberty adorned one end of the temporary pedestrian bridge.

Undocumented citizens living in the United States wore yellow, their relatives in blue, and the organizers in red to facilitate the dynamic.

"love and protest event" –

Claudia Blassi, originally from Oaxaca, 2,300 kilometers south of Ciudad Juárez, was a 21-year-old girl the last time she saw her aunt Gloria Cruz in person.

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Now 44, she couldn’t help the nervousness and dizzying emotions of being reunited with her 60-year-old aunt and other relatives.

"Very grateful to God, to the people who made this program because I was able to see them, I was able to hug them even for three, five minutes and with that I stay"said.

For Fernando García, director of the Border Network for Human Rights and one of the organizers, the idea is to allow "that families that have been destroyed and separated by the immigration policy of the United States can come and reunite again".

"This is an event of love and humanity and union and hope, but it is also an event of protest"he assured AFP.

Garcia reported that "deportation and separation of families has not stopped"even during the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden, who "promised a lot" a more humane policy towards migrants.

In 2021, the Mexican migrant population in the United States amounted to 11.9 million people, compared to 11.5 million in 2020, according to a report by the Spanish bank BBVA based on official figures from both countries.

The data also indicates an increase in irregular migration, with an average of 72,000 monthly encounters between US authorities and undocumented Mexicans in 2022, compared to 59,000 monthly encounters in 2021, according to the same report.


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