San Diego: A couple separated by deportation have realised their dream of getting married in a religious ceremony at a fence dividing the cities of Tijuana in Mexico and San Diego in the US.
Cecilia Garcia traveled from Chicago to Mexico to reunite with her now husband, Hugo Enrique Velazco, who was deported to Mexico in 2012 after living in the US for 27 years.
"It is a blessing to finally get married," declared the couple at the end of the ceremony Sunday, in which they exchanged vows with Garcia standing on the US side of the fence and Velazco on the Mexican side in Friendship Park which straddles the border.
Garcia and Velazco have been in a relationship for 18 years and have five children between the ages of eight and 17 years, all of whom are US citizens.
Velazco, 43, was arrested two years ago for driving a vehicle with expired number plates.
When the US authorities discovered that he had been deported once before, he was sent back to Mexico again.
The couple says that they were led to believe that signing a voluntary departure form was the best option given that both Garcia and the five children are US citizens but that they later found out that Velazco may not be able to return to the US for at least 10 years.
"We are fighting and doing everything possible so that he can return to us," said Garcia, 39, adding that there are thousands of families in a similar situation.
Although her husband cannot benefit from the immigration reform announced by US President Barack Obama a few weeks ago on account of his previous deportation, the couple has not given up on the fight, the wedding being the first step.
"In order to try and ask him (Obama), one of the requirements is that we be legally married," Celilia said.
The couple held a civil wedding Friday but were advised by NGOs such as Border Angels to hold a religious ceremony in the park, a bi-national meeting place on the US-Mexico border where families and friends visit, and now get married, through the border fence.