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Border & Immigration

Families Reunite At San Diego-Tijuana Border As Door Opens Briefly

Lourdes Barraza Torres meets her son, Alex, for the first time since she was deported to Mexico more than two years ago, April 26, 2015.
Jean Guerrero
Lourdes Barraza Torres meets her son, Alex, for the first time since she was deported to Mexico more than two years ago, April 26, 2015.

Families Reunite At San Diego-Tijuana Border As Door Opens Briefly
Four divided families were able to reunite for two minutes each at the border on Sunday in commemoration of Mexico's Children's Day.

Ten-year-old Alex Lopez hadn't seen his mother in more than two years when a steel door at Friendship Park inside Border Field State Park opened on Sunday, allowing him to run into her arms.

Lourdes Barraza Torres, his mother, was deported on Feb. 13, 2013, when Alex and his brother, Giovanni, were at school. They didn't get to say goodbye.

"I felt like I was never going to see her again," Lopez said.

Barraza Torres said of the separation, "I felt my life was ending, that the world was over for me."

The Lopez brothers were among four families allowed to reunite for two minutes each at the border. The steel door was opened for the second time in history ahead of Mexico's Children's Day, celebrated on April 30. Since Border Field State Park is only open on the weekends, the event was held a few days before the actual holiday. The first time the door opened was in April 2013.

"I love you so much," Barraza told her crying sons as she hugged and kissed them. "Don't despair, we'll be together again soon."

The brothers hadn't seen their two-year-old sister since their mother was deported. They had never met their six-month-old brother. She brought them to the event so that the brothers could embrace them as well. The boys have been living with their father, a U.S. citizen.

Alex and Giovanni Lopez talk to their mother through the border fence at Border Field State Park.
Jean Guerrero
Alex and Giovanni Lopez talk to their mother through the border fence at Border Field State Park.

The event was organized by the San Diego-based nonprofit organization Border Angels in collaboration with the U.S. Border Patrol.

When the two minutes were up, the brothers pressed their faces up against the fence, interlacing their fingers with their mother's and their siblings'.

"I feel so many emotions, so much happiness, to have this gift God gave me, of being able to hug my sons," Barraza said through the fence.

Lopez said he hopes his mother can move back to the U.S. He said he felt safe when she was around because she worked three jobs to take care of him and his brother.

"I feel happy that the border people would let us see our family," Lopez said.

Enrique Morones, director of Border Angels, said he hopes to have these reunions more often.

"We want to do this eventually every day," he said.