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Mexican grandparents, children reunite in Arizona under programs

(AP Photo/Pablo Spencer)

PHOENIX — Mexican grandparents are reuniting with their children living in Arizona — most of whom are undocumented — under special programs.

At least 10 states in Mexico have family reunification programs for their citizens. They help Mexican residents who are 60 years of age or older get tourist visas so they can travel to the United States to visit their sons and daughters.

“Some families have more than 25 years without seeing each other,” Tucson resident Angel Pacheco said. “I know they talk by phone or emails but, physically, it has been 25 years.”

Pacheco works with officials in both Mexico and the United States to reunite families. In June, he helped bring 32 residents from the Mexican state of Guanajuato to Arizona.

“Everybody was crying, hugging and kissing each other, because they hadn’t seen each other in 25, 20 or 15 years,” he said. “To me, that is a miracle.”

Pacheco said he and others had initially helped 100 Mexican residents from Guanajuato submit visa applications, but only 32 were approved. He said that was mainly due to strict requirements.

Those who have been caught in the U.S. illegally or had a deportation order placed on them are not eligible for the programs.

Pacheco said the family reunification programs are fairly new. They’ve only been around for about three years.

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