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U.S. Border Opens Briefly for Families to Embrace

PHOTO: Grandmother Yolanda Verona hugs granddaughter Frida Villagomez at the border fence in Friendship Park at Border Field State Park near San Diego. Photo credit: Maria Teresa Fernandez/Border Angels.
PHOTO: Grandmother Yolanda Verona hugs granddaughter Frida Villagomez at the border fence in Friendship Park at Border Field State Park near San Diego. Photo credit: Maria Teresa Fernandez/Border Angels.
April 28, 2015

SAN DIEGO - The U.S. Border Patrol opened a stretch of fence along the border with Mexico near San Diego for 15 minutes this weekend to let members of four long-separated families embrace.

Part of the Friendship Day celebration and Children's Day holiday in Mexico, the event was organized by Border Angels, an immigration reform group, in partnership with the Border Patrol.

Enrique Morones, executive director of Border Angels, says parents and grandparents who had been deported to Mexico were finally able to hug the U.S.-born children they left behind.

"They tell me that it means everything," he says. "Even if it's only two minutes, that's a lifetime of wanting to hug your child, your grandchild. Love has no borders."

Border Angels wants Americans to see the human side of the immigration debate. The group is pushing Congress to pass what it calls "humane immigration reform," which would prioritize family reunification while still protecting border security in the post-9/11 era.

Brandon Cazares, U.S. Border Patrol public affairs officer, says they plan to hold more events like these in the coming years. He says they foster goodwill and don't jeopardize border security.

"As a result of the efforts of Border Patrol agents across the San Diego sector, relationships are being fostered with the general public, while balancing our border security mission," says Cazares.

A similar event took place for the first time two years ago, but the fence was only open for two minutes on that occasion.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA