National News

Personal Stories Helped by “Hugs Not Walls”

The following are personal stories of people who were willing to share their stories, as Gabriela Castaneda shared with The Lions’ Pride.


“I can’t express with words what I felt. Since I was walking towards the river, tears started running down my face; I was looking to the other side in Juarez where I saw hundreds of people, and I was thinking to myself that I was going to be able to see my loved one shortly. I had not seen my brother in 20 years. This afternoon, I was looking at the pictures again, and I felt the same feeling I had when I was in the river with my brother: I remember telling my mother that I was going to participate in this event and that very soon I was going to be able to see my brother. She said, “that is great, son; you will finally be able to see your brother.” But my mother died two weeks prior to the event and she wasn’t able to see their sons together one more time. But nevertheless, I have been left with a great satisfaction, for this experience has marked my life. It was only three minutes, but they were the most beautiful minutes of my life; it was a piece of heaven that God gave me. I can’t express with words the gratitude I feel towards the Executive Director and his team. God bless you all.”

– Ricardo Jacquez


“Almost 20 years passed by, and, finally, yesterday, I was able to hug my mother! Now, I dedicate this hug to all of those that think that we come here to take away their jobs. I am not a US citizen; I am a Mexican immigrant, not because I wanted to become one, but due to the circumstances. I have been working hard for years in this country, and helping all those that at some point had required my help. I have never wanted to become a burden for anyone. I didn’t have a childhood; I left it back in my country when I crossed the border, and now I tell you, you that criticize and curse my community: do not wear out with so much hatred; instead, thank life for having a better life than most of us.”

– Nayeli Ruiz


“Her name Is Gabriela. She had not seen her daddy since she was 1 year old. She is five now. Even though they talk by phone, thanks to Hugs Not Walls, she was able to see him again and hug him. The situation was very difficult for her since her older sisters were able to see their dad – but not her, and she was always asking why I can’t see my dad.”

– Laura Murillo (Gabriela’s mother)


“My name is Ofelia Arcos. I had not seen my parents in 22 years, and thanks to Hugs Not Walls, I was able to see them again. I have no words to express my gratitude. Yesterday was very exciting. Thanks so much.”

– Ofelia Arcos

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