Boston resident Renata Borges Teodoro, 25, came to the United States illegally from Brazil with her mother Gorete when she was 6 years old to reunite with their father, who was already living there. However, her mother was deported six years ago while Renata chose to remain in the United States to finish her studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Thanks to the efforts of the United We Dream organization, which advocates for fair treatment for young immigrants, she finally had the chance to see her mother again. Earlier this week, Renata reunited with her mother, but she didn’t meet her at an airport or in a house — it was at a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona.
The emotional reunion between daughter and mother was captured by New York Times photographer Samantha Sais and shows the pair crying as they hold hands and separated by a border fence.
The photo, which went on the June 12 front page of The New York Times, has since gone viral and brings a human side to the complicated process of immigration reform that is currently being debated in Congress.
When talking about the viral photo, Renata told Sacha Pfeiffer of Boston public radio station WBUR that she was originally happy to see her mother at the fence, but when the moment came, she “became really angry.”
She explained to Pfeiffer: “You know, I always had pictured us reuniting differently. I always pictured us either meeting at the airport or running toward each other or me surprising her in Brazil. I just pictured it really differently. And then when I got to that moment and I saw my mom crying behind this rusty fence, I just started crying because she was so upset. It was just really difficult that I couldn’t be there to hold her.”
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