Kiss of the Pinkie, symbol of family reunions for USA deportees
Sometimes love shows with only brief contact, such as the union of the little fingers through a fence, to know that the family bond prevails above the migratory separation.
The so-called Kiss of the Pinkie is a custom that has been established in the border crossing of Tijuana, where every Sunday several deported migrants come to meet their families, who live on the US side and are separated by a wall.
“We have instituted it because the little finger is the only thing that fits in this grid, it’s the only physical contact we have,” said Guillermo Navarrete, pastor of the Church of the Lighthouse on Tijuana beaches, who for five years has been dedicated to service to migrants who are detained and returned to the country.
The member of the Mexican Methodist Church explained that being separated from their families, these people stay in Tijuana to feel the closeness of their own, which forces many to live in the streets.
“They have lost a lot of things, including their family, so their depression heals with alcohol, drugs and that leads them many times to commit crime,” said the pastor.
He considered that “our service includes psychological and moral support, as well as social work, so that deported people acquire a formal job, housing and can reside in this city, in more dignified conditions.”
Pastor Navarrete said that thanks to this binational service to support the migrant, 15 people already reside in Tijuana permanently, in addition they are supported so that they process the regularization of their migratory situation and return with their families legally.
Guillermo Navarrete said that one of the greatest satisfactions of this work is to foster coexistence and foster family reunification.
Every Sunday, the siege of the border between Tijuana and San Diego opens a couple of hours for families to approach, being a steel fence of approximately 15 meters wide the only means of contact between its members.
The Church of the Lighthouse has tents, a mobile kitchen and speakers, to make this coexistence a celebration. However, there are times when the weather prevents activities, because the Border Patrol closes the way, due to the flood of the river.
This stretch of border is also known as Amistad Park and was inaugurated in 1971 by the then first American lady, Patricia Nixon. In 2009, the US government restricted access to this area in order to build a second border fence and in 2012 was reinforced with a metal mesh.
NTX / AHC / GPG