Three U.S. youths reunited with their deported mothers Tuesday at the stretch of Arizona-Mexico border that slices the town of Nogales in two. The mothers made the journey from Columbia, Mexico, and Brazil to see their children in person for the first time after years of separation forced by U.S. immigration laws.
Yet, the towering fence that walls off the U.S.-Mexico border stood between the U.S.-based youth, whose legal status prohibits them from re-entering the United States if they leave, and their parents, who are not legally permitted to enter the United States because they were deported.
In a highly emotional reunion, the family members clasped each other's hands through the bars of the border fence as they laughed, cried, and exchanged family photographs and gifts.
The reunion, termed Operation Butterfly, was organized by the youth-led immigrant justice group United We Dream to raise awareness about the inhumanity of forced separation that many immigrants face at the hands of U.S. immigration laws. The youth in the video are part of the growing movement of Dreamers--undocumented youth demanding justice and dignity for people living in the U.S. without papers.
Renata Teodora explained in a United We Dream video that it had been six years since she had seen her mother who was deported to Brazil.
"I am a little angry that this is the only way I can see [my mother], through a fence," declared Evelyn Rivera, who also reunited with her mother.
United We Dream explained that the action took place in conjunction with efforts to press Washington for immigration policies that do not tear loved ones apart:
After years of separation, Evelyn Rivera, Renata Teodoro, & Carlos Padilla finally saw their parents face-to-face today by traveling to the US/Mexico Border. Evelyn Rivera, a DREAMer from the Orlando area, reunited with her mom, who was deported to Colombia 6 years ago after a traffic stop. Renata Teodora, whose mom turned herself in after her brother was unfairly detained, saw her mom after 6 years. And Carlos Padilla, a DREAMer from Seattle, finally saw his mother, who’d returned to Mexico to care for aging relatives several years ago and hasn’t been able to come back to the U.S. since.
Meanwhile, the immigration debate in Washington DC is heating up & DREAMers continue to put the pressure on Congress. They are maintaining a strong presence at the cloture vote in the Senate Gallery & are reminding politicians that DREAMers are watching and we expect them to stand with our families, create a real path to citizenship, and reunite those who’ve been separated!