Things That Matter

The San Diego-Tijuana Border Was The Setting Of An Emotional, Bi-National Easter Celebration

Dozens of people separated by deportations finally had a chance to reconnect as they celebrated Easter at the U.S.-Mexico border. Their meeting was organized by El Faro: The Border Church, a church that holds services at the border every Sunday for Mexican and U.S. nationals, and Caravan Against Fear, a traveling immigration advocacy group. They teamed up to give several families a chance to reconnect at International Friendship Park in San Diego, Calif.

Families in the U.S. and Mexico gathered at the border wall in San Diego, Calif. to celebrate Easter and reconnect after years of separation.

Fox 5 KSWB

Friend of the Border Church Father Dermot Rodgers told FOX 5 KSWB why they held the service at the border wall separating San Diego, Calif. and Tijuana, Mexico: “To celebrate the promise that this day brings to Christians and that’s hope and renewal and promise.” Rodgers added, “Our being here, to bring families together, is to bear witness on this side of the border that we expect and hope that one day what seemed like utter darkness and deportation will become a resurrected story of family reunification.”

Families at the wall gathered to worship together and bring attention to the issues facing immigrants in the U.S.

CBS 8 KFMB

According to a video by CBS 8 KFMB, the gathering was in large part a symbolic movement by the organizations El Far: The Border Church and Caravan Against Fear to show that they are all one family, the human family. Attendees on both sides of the border worshipped in unison while chanting and bringing attention to what the current immigration system looks like with real people.

“We don’t need any more militarization of the border,” Caravan Against Fear spokesperson Alejandra Valles told FOX 5 KSWB.

CBS 8 KFMB

“We don’t need anymore walls. We already have enough of that. What we need is to start respecting one another as human beings and to start understanding and figuring out how we deal with some of the issues that are happening in Syria, in Mexico, in Haiti, in Brazil, across the world,” Valles told FOX 5 KSWB. “What we are are human beings and we need to start treating each other as such, as neighbors.”

Emotions ran high as siblings reunited with siblings and children reunited with parents after years of separation.

Fox 5 KSWB

And many traveled to San Diego or Tijuana for a chance to touch fingers with loved ones they have been separated from for so long.

Fox 5 KSWB

Families were able to spend a few hours talking and touching fingers through the border fence that has steadily grown since the park was first created. At first there was just a chain link fence the marked the international border. It was from 2009 to 2011 that more fences were added and the access to the border fence was severely restricted making moments to reconnect that much more impactful and important.

Watch the full news story here.


READ: This Immigration Rights Group Gave 6 Families The Chance To Cross The Border For A 3-Minute Visit

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Ecuadorian Sisters, 3 And 5, Dropped By Smugglers From 14 Ft High Mexico-US Border Wall

Things That Matter

Ecuadorian Sisters, 3 And 5, Dropped By Smugglers From 14 Ft High Mexico-US Border Wall

A recent video shared by a border patrol agent highlighted a shocking moment of smugglers literally dropping two little girls over a 14-foot high fence in the New Mexico desert. Right in the dead of night.

In the disturbing video, the smugglers can be seen climbing the fence and then dropping the two 5-year-old and 3-year-old sisters to the ground.

El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez shared that the incident occurred “miles from the nearest residence.”

The two little girls (Yareli, 3, and Yasmina, 5) were rescued after agents spotted them during a virtual surveillance sweep. The two sisters are from Ecuador and were dumped by human smugglers at the border wall according to an official.

“[US Immigration officials] need to verify the identity of the parents and confirm they are the parents and make sure they are in good condition to receive the girls,” Magdalena Nunez, of the Consulate of Ecuador in Houston, explained to The New York Post on Thursday. “It’s a process … We’re working to make sure it’s an expedited process and the girls spend as minimal time as possible separated from their parents.”

“Hopefully it can happen soon, in a week or two, but  it can take up to six weeks. We are working to make sure sure it happens as quickly as possible,” she explained before noting that the two sisters are “doing very well.”

“We have been in contact with them and confirmed they are in good health,” Nunez shared. “Physically, they are perfect — emotionally, obviously, they went through a hard time, but I guarantee you right now they are in good health and they are conversing. They are very alert, very intelligent.”

In a statement about the incident, the Ecuadorian consulate confirmed that the two girls had been in touch with their parents, who live in New York City.

“The Ecuadorian Consulate in Houston had a dialogue with the minors and found that they are in good health and that they contacted their parents, who currently live in New York City,” explained the consulate.

In a statement from the girls’ parents sent to Telemundo, the girls’ parents had left their daughters behind at their home in Jaboncillo, Ecuador, to travel to the US. The parents of the two girls have been identified as Yolanda Macas Tene and Diego Vacacela Aguilar. According to the New York Post, “The girls’ grandparents have asked President Biden to reunite the children with their parents. Aguilar paid a human smuggler to take his kids to the border — though the grandparents didn’t know how much they paid.”

“[The parents] wanted to be with them, their mother suffered a lot, for that reason they decided to take them,” paternal grandfather Lauro Vacacela explained in an interview with Univision.

It is still uncertain as to whether or not the girls’ parents are in the country legally.

Photos of the girls showed them having snacks with Agent Gloria Chavez.

“When I visited with these little girls, they were so loving and so talkative, some of them were asking the names of all the agents that were there around them, and they even said they were a little hungry,” Chavez told Fox News. “So I helped them peel a banana and open a juice box and just talked to them. You know, children are just so resilient and I’m so grateful that they’re not severely injured or [have] broken limbs or anything like that.”

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Things That Matter

9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Photo via Getty Images

On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

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