Illegals Reunite With Families At Border Fence

Children pass candy through the border control fence Monday as hundreds of families gather on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to speak out against U.S. immigration policy. (Cindy Carcamo / Los Angeles Times)

What really divides families?  Immigration policies… or illegal immigration decisions?

Photo Credit:  Children pass candy through the border control fence Monday as hundreds of families gather on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to speak out against U.S. immigration policy. (Cindy Carcamo / Los Angeles Times)

LA TIMES | By Cindy Carcamo & Molly Hennessy-Fiske:  Hundreds of families and border residents separated by the U.S.-Mexico border gathered Monday at a chain-link fence separating the countries for a binational protest targeting U.S. immigration policy.

Mothers sobbed, sisters exchanged laughs and children swapped candy through the fence during an event organized by immigrant rights activists to illustrate how the border and immigration policy divides families. The event, timed to coincide with Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico, drew about 50 people on the Mexican side and an estimated 250 on the U.S. side.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“We touch hands, but it is like being in jail!”[/pullquote]

The Vatican has said that the pope’s journey through Mexico, which takes him from the southern state of Chiapas to the northern border with Texas, symbolically traces the route of migrants trying to reach the United States. On Wednesday he will celebrate an outdoor Mass in nearby Ciudad Juarez, opposite its northern sister city of El Paso.

Monday’s hour-long event gave families who are unable to travel to Juarez for the papal visit a chance to symbolically deliver a letter to the pontiff. They read their letter aloud in English and in Spanish.

Some protesters — including several women who are in the U.S. illegally — gave testimony just steps from the fence and Border Patrol officials inside their vehicles.

Maria Ceniseros Galvan, a 59-year-old grandmother who lives in Las Cruces, N.M., without legal status, spoke to the crowd about her family on both sides of the international boundary. “I don’t think it’s just to have to see my grandchildren from across the border wall,” she said.

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