Locals, visitors gather for family reunification

Isis Avalos is proud of her hometown.

Isis Avalos is proud of her hometown.

While the Brownsville native has lived in Los Angeles for six years, she returned Thursday as a speaker at the Families Belong Together Rally at the Border sponsored by a coalition of organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union. About 1,500 gathered at Linear Park for the demonstration.

Avalos, 32, is a dancer with the Contra-Tiempo Urban Latin Dance Theater and combines art with social justice activism. She returned to share her experience growing up on the border.

“I’m so proud that Brownsville has opened the doors to create a space for this to happen,” she said. “Oftentimes you feel apart from the U.S., but to know this is at the forefront (of family separations), it’s been difficult to witness.”

Avalos said she was 7 years old when her family crossed the Rio Grande from Matamoros, and she grew up undocumented in Texas. In 2013, she said she became the first U.S. resident to travel and dance throughout Latin America with a State Department cultural program — though she was almost precluded because of her Mexican passport.

Her travels taught her “how unique it is to be from the border and this life at the intersection,” Avalos said. “We welcome migrants every day, and we must continue to keep welcoming migrants. It’s the fabric of who we are in Brownsville.”

A more complete version of this story is available on www.myBrownsvilleHerald.com