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Project December 23, 2019

Bridging the Border: A Family Divided

Authors:
Ramon Flores, 46, from left, formerly of Hazel Dell, sits down to Thanksgiving dinner at his apartment in Tijuana, Mexico, with his daughter, Rayma, 10, wife, Enedis, 54, daughter, Kennedy, 16, and son, Raymond, 15. His family, who now lives in Chula Vista, Calif., crossed the U.S.-Mexico border shortly before midnight Wednesday so they could be together for the American holiday. Image by Amanda Cowan. Mexico, 2019.
Ramon Flores, 46, from left, formerly of Hazel Dell, sits down to Thanksgiving dinner at his apartment in Tijuana, Mexico, with his daughter, Rayma, 10, wife, Enedis, 54, daughter, Kennedy, 16, and son, Raymond, 15. His family, who now lives in Chula Vista, Calif., crossed the U.S.-Mexico border shortly before midnight Wednesday so they could be together for the American holiday. Image by Amanda Cowan. Mexico, 2019.

In 2017, a Washington family's life was upended.

Ramon Flores, an undocumented immigrant who lived in the United States for 20 years and in Vancouver for nearly a decade, was on a business trip in Everett. There, he stayed at a Motel 6, whose employees gave his information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

He was deported to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, leaving behind his wife, seven children and community ties.

The Columbian has been following his story since the beginning, reporting recognized by the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association.

Now, we intend to show how his life has changed.

Reporter Jessica Prokop and Photo Editor Amanda Cowan report from Tijuana, Mexico, where Flores now lives. His wife and children left Vancouver and relocated to Chula Vista, California, to be near him.

Through a series of articles, photos and video, we parallel their lives on opposite sides of the border, exploring how they've managed a family split in two. We document the family coming together for Thanksgiving — a uniquely American holiday — then separating at weekend's end.

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