For three minutes, Marcelino Pizarro embraced members of his family at “Abrazos no muros” that he had not seen since he crossed the fence that stands on the border between Mexico and the United States six years ago.
The undocumented immigrant was at an event with hundreds of other families with mixed immigration status, who met with family members at a meeting called “Abrazos no muros” organized by the Border Network for Human Rights group based in El Paso, Texas.
Pizarro, 36, says he fled his homeland due to insecurity. He worked in a juvenile detention center where he said he received death threats from inmates. A brother lost his life at the hands of an organized crime gang, he said.
Pizarro has five children, two of whom live with him in El Paso, where he now works as an occasional worker. One of his children suffers from autism. The others, including his 18-year-old daughter, Fatima Paola, live in Mexico.
“I saw my friends, my cousins, all with their parents and I became sad and crying. I wish I could have been here while I was growing up,” said Fatima Pizarro, who now has a daughter, Aitana, whom her father met on Saturday.
In the event, Pizarro and more than 300 families dressed in blue shirts, while those who arrived from Juarez, Mexico, wore white shirts to make sure no one tried to cross. Meetings are approved by US government agencies as participants remain on the river bed that marks the border.
After the speeches of the organizers, all met for three minutes to embrace each other and have short and emotional face-to-face conversations.
“I would not change these moments for nothing. We have to enjoy them as much as we can,” said Pizarro as he carried his granddaughter.
His brother, Ramón Pizarro, 51, took the opportunity to tell the family some news: he would use his job as a taxi driver to apply for a visitor visa and thus be able to see his brother more often.
Soon the organizers told them that the time had run out and everyone said goodbye, not knowing when they might meet again. “The hardest part is that it’s over,” Pizarro said. “We have to accept it, but it’s difficult.”