Family members who haven’t seen each other in years had a brief but beautiful moment to reunite over the weekend. On June 24, families separated by the US-Mexico border were able to meet and embrace each other during a Hugs Not Walls event.
Organizers hosted the event—the fourth of its kind—at the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Residents of the U.S. gathered on one side of the border in a local park. At the same time, Mexican family members came together on a nearby intersection.
From there, both sides made their way to the meeting spot at the Rio Grande. To keep everyone organized and safe, each side wore a different color t-shirt: blue for U.S. residents and white for Mexican residents. Border patrol from both sides stood by and closely monitored the event so no one would cross the border during the reunions.
Brief Reunions Filled With Hugs, Tears
Then, more than 2,500 people from about 194 families met at the border in the middle of the dry riverbed to share hugs, laughs and tears.
The families only had four minutes to enjoy their reunions. But they made the most of the little time they had together.
Claudia Pastrana, 42, hugged her sister and niece now living in Texas. She hadn’t seen them in more than a decade.
“It has been a very long 11 years,” she told Agence France Press. “It is an unforgettable moment.”
Event "#HugsnotWalls" held at border between Mexico and U.S. https://t.co/TDrVHOPOG3 pic.twitter.com/6nMmPJXkYj
— 中國新聞社 (@CNS1952) June 25, 2017
Meanwhile, Maria Rocha Vega traveled from Denver to see her father. She told NewsChannel 9 her mom and dad brought her to the U.S. when she was 7 years old. Vega hasn’t seen her father since then.
Their reunion, ten years in the making, may have only been minutes. However, Vega cherished every one.
“I know it’s five minutes or less, but a hug is something that’s going to last forever,” she said. Watch the video featuring her family’s reunion below:
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Saturday’s event marked the fourth time the Border Network for Human Rights reunited families members in this way.
“What we are doing today is bringing families together,” said BNHR’s executive director Fernando Garcia.
At the end of the event, families members reluctantly let go of one another and said their goodbyes.
“Oh my god. I did not want to let go. I just want to go back and hug and never separate from each other,” Vega said. “I don’t want to say it’s the last time but at least we hug and we told each other we love each other.”