By Tim Harfmann
June 25 was an emotional day for the Barragan family and their friends: the day they prayed for had arrived.
Thirteen-year-old Cristian and 10-year-old Daniel waited anxiously to be reunited with their father, Benjamin, at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.
They were together again.
Benjamin had been stuck in Mexico for nearly a year after U.S. officials discovered he crossed the border illegally decades ago. He was then told he couldn’t get a green card for at least 10 years.
Benjamin described the feeling of finally being able to enter the U.S. as, “Happy. Happy to be here in New York.”
When family and friends enlisted the help of doctors and politicians, Benjamin’s application for Humanitarian Relief was expedited.
Then came the good news that he was coming to New York.
“I feel, like, really… I don’t how you say it, but just excited. I haven’t seen him in so long. Since I can see him now, I’m just… Proud,” Daniel said of being able to embrace his father.
“It’s just really exciting to see his face again, like personally, because I haven’t seen him in a really long time,” Cristian agreed.
Benjamin’s wife, Maria, is the reason for his wanting to return to the country. Maria, a U.S. citizen and immigrant from Guatemala, has been battling stage four cancer for over a decade.
Now, doctors are giving her weeks to live.
A photo captured their emotional embrace as they were together again on Tuesday morning.
Benjamin tried reuniting with his family twice, but he was denied.
In Spanish, he explained that even with approval this time, he feared going through security in Mexico.
“They waited for me there, checking the mandatory parole for, like, 40 minutes; and I was afraid that they would tell me that I had to turn around and go back,” he said in his native language.
But they didn’t, and now he’s back in Brooklyn.
Helping to make these dreams happen is Amy Lyons, a parishioner at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
She signed-up as guardian for the boys so they aren’t forced into foster care if their mom passes away.
“There’s not really words. I just, I’ve never seen so hopeful and beautiful in my life,” she said, calling the reunion a miracle.
But their fight isn’t over. Benjamin is only approved to stay in the U.S. until mid-July.
Amy and their friends are trying to extend his stay “to be with his boys when and if his wife passes, to help them through that grieving process and to just have the time that that takes,” she said.
For now, they’ll cherish every second they have together.
*Parts of this story have been translated from its original Spanish.