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Wed Oct 30, 2019, 09:26 PM

Separated Families Were Allowed to Hug on the Riverbed of the Rio Grande--for 3 Minutes [View all]

Separated Families Were Allowed to Hug on the Riverbed of the Rio Grande—for 3 Minutes
“Every time we do this, it could be the last one.”
Julia Lurie and Fernanda Echavarri

Last week, Miriam Pallares boarded a bus in Oklahoma City with her six-year-old daughter and rode through the night to El Paso, Texas for a three-minute hug with family she hadn’t seen in years.

The mother and daughter were among 2,500 people participating in a rare event in which US Customs and Border Protection opens a gate in the fence separating El Paso from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, allowing families to briefly reunify. Hugs Not Walls, or Abrazos No Muros, was started in the spring of 2016 by non-profit Border Network for Human Rights. It takes place roughly twice a year, when the water flow of the Rio Grande is cut to a trickle. Families on either side of the border wait in line for hours to embrace for three minutes in the dry riverbed.

For many, the event marks the first—and last—time they will have physical contact with family members for years.

By 7:00 a.m., hundreds of participants had formed a line that curled around El Paso’s unassuming Chihuahuita Park. Over blue shirts required for participation, they bundled in coats and blankets, some toting folding chairs and coolers of lunch. Kids ran around the playground, blue shirts reaching their knees. 800 feet away—across train tracks, the soaring border fence and the shallow Rio Grande—corresponding families gathered at an intersection in Juárez, wearing white shirts.

Miriam, a 27-year-old with bright pink lipstick and an impeccable ponytail, had been anticipating this day ever since she learned about the event on Facebook a couple years ago. “I really want to see my sister—it’s been four years since I saw her,” she explained in Spanish. “She can’t come here because she hasn’t been able to get her visa, and I still haven’t gotten my asylum. I’m fighting to get it.”

At 8:00, the line in the park began to move. Some pushed wheelchairs or strollers as they made their way towards a dirt opening next to the border fence. There, participants waited for hours on plastic chairs: Only 20 families could enter through the gate at a time. Miriam was number 82.



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Reply Separated Families Were Allowed to Hug on the Riverbed of the Rio Grande--for 3 Minutes [View all]
babylonsister Oct 2019 OP
world wide wally Oct 2019 #1
alittlelark Oct 2019 #2
Hermit-The-Prog Oct 2019 #3
PCIntern Oct 2019 #4