Black, Latino leaders unite for Juneteenth, ‘Hugs Not Walls’ celebration


EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – El Paso activists will gather next month for a joint celebration of two events that embody freedom from oppression for people of color.

The 8th “Hugs not Walls” event will allow migrants in El Paso to reunite for a few minutes with their relatives in Juarez on the Rio Grande. The gathering this year is taking place on Juneteenth and plans call for Black and Latino leaders to speak at the same event.

“After a difficult year during which our communities experienced immense loss, the Border Network for Human Rights is excited to once again host Hugs Not Walls and create much-needed space for hope, love and care for our communities,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the organization.

The gathering at 8:30 a.m. June 19 will allow families separated by immigration status and laws to walk down to the river and physically embrace each other, then return to their side of the border. U.S. authorities usually monitor but don’t intervene in the event. Juneteenth, a holiday that marks the anniversary of emancipation for slaves, will also be observed there.

Photo courtesy BNHR

The last Hugs Not Walls event took place in October of 2019. This time, El Paso Catholic Diocese Bishop Mark J. Seitz and the Rev. Michael E. Grady will participate. Other groups participating include the Peace and Justice Ministry of the Diocese and the Border Agricultural Workers Union.

“At its core, Hugs Not Walls is an act of protest against inhumane policies and practices that deny families and individuals the dignity, respect and safety they deserve,” Garcia said. “Those precious few minutes of families reuniting offers a glimpse into an alternative framework of welcoming for our border – the new Ellis Island – and for our nation as a whole that is rooted in compassion, accountability, transparency and solidarity to build more just institutions, policies and communities.”

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