11 heartrending photos of families embracing across the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Nov. 20, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and grandparents living on opposite sides of the U.S.-Mexico border were allowed to hug each other for the first time in years, or — in some cases — decades.

The event was sponsored by Border Angels, a San Diego-based nonprofit that supports immigration reform and provides services to immigrant families living on the U.S. side of the border.

Six families were permitted to visit with each other for a few minutes each, according to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune. Border guards were present to ensure participants didn't stray too far to one side or the other.


The reunions were highly emotional, particularly given the uncertain future of the event — which has happened annually since 2013 — in the wake of the anti-immigrant rhetoric in the U.S. election.

1. Luis Hernandez and his father, Eduardo, embrace as a border guard looks on.

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images.

2. Matha Morales and Aileen Gonzalez — grandmother and granddaughter — share a brief hug through the open door.

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images.

3. Aileen's father, Adrian Gonzalez Morales, leads her away after her short visit with her grandmother.

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images.

4. Border guards monitor one of six emotional family reunions.

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images.

5. Laura Avila peers through the fence while having a conversation with her relatives in Mexico.

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images.

6. Avila and daughter Laura Vera Martinez wipe away tears as they leave a meeting with their relatives to return to the U.S. side.

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images.

7. A man surveys the scene from the Mexican side of the border.

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images.

8. 1-year-old Romina Camacho points through the fence from her father's arms.

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images.

9. Children play and wait as some glance through to the other side of the fence.

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images.

10. A man gazes through the fence to the U.S. side as a crowd gathers.

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images.

11. As families tearfully reunite at the open door, a small physical connection is made elsewhere.

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images.

For the thousands of undocumented Americans with family across the southern border — for whom going back to Mexico would mean being unable to return home to the U.S. — three minutes is hardly enough to express years' worth of longing, pain, and love. Still, many remain hopeful that they'll get the chance to connect again in person in the coming years, despite the anti-immigration hard line adopted by the incoming administration.

Luisa Hernandez of Los Angeles, who came to embrace her mother for the first time in 12 years, told the Union-Tribune that she was able to deliver a simple message to her mom during their brief meeting:

"I told her I loved her. That’s it."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

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"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less