Seventeen families from the Mexican state of Nayarit were reunited with their Los Angeles relatives Thursday at a City Hall event hosted by Councilman Gil Cedillo.

Some family members had not seen each other for 15 to 20 years, Cedillo’s office said, and the reunification was made possible after several years of lobbying the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Department to grant a temporary humanitarian visa for the families.

The state of Nayarit selected 17 families out of 200 applicants, and paid for visa processing and full travel costs, Cedillo’s office said.

The participants will remain in Los Angeles for two weeks then return to Mexico, but their visas will remain active for 10 years.

“This was an emotional day for us. It is difficult to witness first- hand the consequences of having a broken immigration system in the Unites States, one that keeps families apart, in some cases for over 20 years,” Cedillo said.

“Although today is a happy day, and we get to reunify a handful of families, I am reminded of the magnitude of families affected by federal inaction,” he said. “There are still 11 million people waiting for their chance to reunify with their families. We need comprehensive immigration reform. We need a solution for DACA and TPS recipients. In the absence of a long term immigration solution, these family reunifications will serve as windows of hope.”

–City News Service

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