After witnessing the pain that families go through when an undocumented family member is deported while their American-born children remain in the country, one Minnesota woman decided to help reconnect these lost children with their families.
Lisa M. Kremer, of Worthington, Minn., witnessed families in her town’s Guatemalan community getting torn apart when undocumented members would get deported, leaving behind their American-born kids or grandchildren. So she began a special project she called Abuelos y Nietos Juntos ("Grandparents and Grandchildren Together").
The project aims to reunited these U.S. citizens, often the children of undocumented immigrants, with their family in Guatemala – some of whom they had never met.
“I was really struck by the injustice of that and the thought was: the parents can’t go, but most of their children are U.S.-born citizens and they have the same rights and freedoms that I do,” Kremer told Latina Lista.
Earlier this year Kremer and a group of volunteers took 14 kids to the Central American nation to visit their relatives.
“It was a moment like no other when these children were literally enveloped by their families of origin – by the grandparents and aunts, uncles, cousins, and in two cases, siblings, who had been waiting years to meet these children,” she said. “I can’t even begin to describe what that was like. There were smiles, tears and close embraces that had been awaited for too long. It was probably one of the most incredible and defining moments in my life.”
Accompanying the group was Guatemalan filmmaker Luis Argueta (The Silence of Neto), who documented the group’s 3,000-plus mile journey from Worthington, to San Marcos, Guatemala for a project tentatively titled, Abuelos y Nietos: Two Generations Together.
“I’m beginning to realize that this is much larger than one grandchild meeting a grandparent,” Argueta said. “This is part of an effort to reconstruct collective memory and repair the broken links of knowledge and tradition that are passed from generation to generation.”
Kremer hopes to make another Abuelos y Nietos trip soon and has a Kickstarter page to raise funds for the project.