By Gladys B. Vargas

Dozens of people held each other close and ate lunch together in a reunion of Mexican families with their loved ones in Oxnard, Friday afternoon.

Family members, ranging in age from babies to elders, walked nervously into the Hacienda Xalisco Restaurant, located at 3600 S. Saviers Rd., where the reunions for more than 10 groups of families took place Oct. 13, holding bouquets of flowers.

The reunions were arranged by Club Cuquio San Felipe, Jalisco, a nonprofit organization “gifting smiles” by helping families see each other after years of separation. The organization was recognized earlier this year by Congressman Jose Luis Correa for their work with migrant families.

“It is great to see you all so excited to see your families, and we are excited with you all,” Carlos Plascencia, Vice President of the Club Cuquio San Felipe, said at the beginning of the event. “There are no words to say, honestly, to describe what we feel.”

Organizers called US-based family members up each family at a time to face one direction, while their relative approached them from the other. The restaurant would count down and the families would turn to face each other, quickly folding into tight hugs, and tears.

Each time members were called up, organizers also announced how long it had been since each of the families had seen their relatives, with times apart being as long as more than 10 years for six of the families. Four of the families had not seen their relatives for more than 20 years. Some of the people came from many states in the USA to meet their relatives that were coming from Cuqui, Jalisco Mexico.

Plascencia thanked the restaurant for hosting and being a part of the special moment. In his remarks, Club Cuquio San Felipe President Roberto Chavez Palafox said it was a pleasure to be a part of helping the families come together, and that they wanted to exemplify helping each other and being good neighbors. This is a special program in which US Immigration grants special visas for Mexicans to come to the United States to visit relatives for a short period of time. Oxnard was the place selected to meet for the group coming from Mexico and for their relatives that some of them were coming from several states of the USA.

“It has been a long journey for most of you to come and see your families again, after many many years,” Plascencia said. “We are so glad to be a part of this.”