A bittersweet reunion lets three young immigrants see – and reach for – their deported mothers through a fence.
Read more here in the June 11 The New York Times piece: Immigrants Reach Beyond a Legal Barrier for a Reunion
As a young man and two young women approached the border from the Arizona side, a cry rang out through the bars of the border fence. Waiting for their children in matching turquoise t-shirts on the Mexican side were their mothers, separated for years since their deportations for being illegally present in the U.S.
The six came together, reaching through the spaces between the thick metal poles, with sobs and laughter under the watchful (and not always dry) eyes of organizers, reporters, Border Patrol, and Mexican Federales last Tuesday – the culmination of days of travel and two months of planning.
All three children are in President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which gives qualified applicants the ability to go to school, work and in some states get drivers licenses while they wait for a more permanent resolution to their legal status limbo. It’s a way for participants to start coming out of the shadows. But it also means that they can’t leave the country to visit their parents who can’t legally return to the U.S. and who live in Brazil, Columbia and southern Mexico. Not to mention the costs and documentation involved in international travel.
That means the unplanned family separations that started with their mothers’ arrests stretched from days, weeks and months to years.
Both children and parents said that when the possibly of a reunion came up it seemed unreal – yet they were eager to try.
Under the intense, direct heat of the desert sun one young woman passed her mother jewelry, the other gave nail polish and a copy of Mama Mia – the young man simply never let go of shoulders of the woman who reached back with silver ringed hands to stroke his face and grasp his head.
(These are my photos from the event, taken just to review along with my notes while writing.)