Mexicans hug their loved ones in the US again thanks to family reunification programs

In Photos |  Program allows Mexicans to hug their loved ones after decades of separation

After decades of separation, dozens of older Mexican adults disembarked in mid-February from a bus in downtown Los Angeles, United States, where their sons and daughters were anxiously waiting for them inside a room.

On average, these families had been separated for 30 years; the exact amount of time they had been apart was marked on the centerpieces.

“When they told us that he was coming, it gave me a lot of emotion. Nice to meet you, I was very moved and cried. Thirty years. We came and they stayed because of the need to find a new life,” she said to the voice of america Guadalupe Vera, one of the immigrants waiting to see her sister.

The travelers sat on one side of the room and the relatives on the other, divided by a thin gold curtain. At the end of a countdown the curtain fell and each eagerly searched for a familiar face.

“She told me ‘come son, because maybe I’m going to die and I won’t see you'” she explained to the VOA emotionally Guillermo Alcántara, who was reunited with his mother after 19 years.

His mother had been left a widow with eight children. Three of them decided to come to the United States in search of opportunities, while their 5 sisters stayed in Mexico with their mother.

“I used to get so sad. Year after year I said ‘My God, when will I see my children return or when will I go see them’” added Alcántara’s mother.

He explained that the day, February 17 to be exact, had been a long one due to the arduous journey from Santiago Tianguistenco, a city located in the State of Mexico, some thirty kilometers south of the state capital, Toluca.

“It was long but it is all this sacrifice that we made… from that group that they did us the favor of bringing us,” he said. “Well, thank God we are here with all those sacrifices. Tiredness, also sleeplessness to wake up, nerves, all that.”

“My mother has been very strong because almost 19 years have passed and God has kept her for us. Sometimes it is a dream that one looks at very difficult to be able to see the people we love again. Only God has been the one who works all this, because humanly speaking, with our strength it is sometimes impossible,” said Alcántara.

reunification program

The family reunification program led by the Association for Success and Community Education of the State of Mexico (AEECEM), together with the government of the State of Mexico offers migrants living in California, Georgia and Nevada -and who have not been able to return to their country of origin – to the possibility of being reunited with their loved ones.

On this last occasion, 49 families were able to hug each other. Many of them met their grandchildren and great-grandchildren for the first time and, thanks to other programs like this one, these Mexicans will be in the US for 20 days.

This is just one of several programs in Mexico designed to rebuild and strengthen ties between families in that country and those who have immigrated to the US.

Each program operates independently and has specific requirements. For applicants, the most common are:

  • Have arrived in the US more than a certain number of years ago.
  • Be originally from the city or state in which the program takes place.
  • Have an irregular immigration status in the US.

For the beneficiary, the requirements include:

  • Being over a certain age, usually 60 years old.
  • Be originally from the city or state in which the program takes place.
  • Have a minimum of years without seeing their relatives in the US.
  • Not having entered or remained undocumented in the US.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, in 2021 there were an estimated 10.7 million people born in Mexico living in the US. However, despite the popularity of the US as an immigration destination, the Mexican immigrant population has declined in recent years.

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Written by Editor TLN

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