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#HugsNotWalls Border Event Allows Families to Reunite for Just Minutes Before Mother’s Day

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Some 4,000 people had a chance to reunite with their families and loved ones — for only four minutes per family — at an emotional event along the El Paso and Ciudad Juarez border this weekend, just before Mother’s Day.

The event was organized by the Border Network for Human Rights and took place in a dry portion of the Rio Grande river, where there were deported parents reunited with children for the first time in decades and grandparents whomet grandchildren for the first time. There was even a marriage proposal for Daisy, a DACA recipient and college student whose boyfriend wanted to surprise her in front of Daisy’s family, who live in Mexico.

The reunions underscored what life is like for the countless families who have been torn apart by U.S. immigration policy, who live separated from their loved ones and missing all the hallmarks and milestones that family members typically look forward to. The Trump Administration, since last year, has been deporting immigrants regardless of priorities, which has meant heartbreak for so many working families who haven’t done anything wrong.

The Dallas News quoted some of the families who were able to reunite:

Alejandra Guerrero Hernandez, from Dallas, hadn’t seen her family in nine years and buried her face in her hands and sobbed at the mere sight of them. Erik Jimenez, 37, nearly fell to his knees when he saw his mother for the first time 17 years.

“It’s always special to see your mother, but especially on Mother’s Day weekend,” he said, tears rolling down his face. “You’re the best gift, mi hijo cacheton,” responded his mother, Ana Maria Zavala, touching her son’s chubby cheeks…

“This is an act of love, family, an act of dignity, a protest act,” said Fernando Garcia, director of Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso…

“There are no words to describe this moment,” said Guerrero Hernandez, who lives between Dallas — where she has about a dozen siblings — and the El Paso-Juarez area, where many more family members live. “Touching their faces, hugging them, feeling family warmth. It filled me with so much joy and pain.”

Her brother, Humberto, turned his head toward the blue sky and tried hiding his tears from his sister. “We have to be strong,” he mumbled He regained his composure and added with gratitude: “Even if it’s for just four minutes, it’s a lifetime for us.”

Read more coverage of the event below:

View photos and tweets of from the event: