Huckins is the co-founding director of Global Immersion, a faith-based peacemaking organization based in San Diego.
The two had met years before while Varona provided support for other deported mothers and military vets stuck in Mexico.
“Our family dropped everything to make sure we were there to give her an embrace as she crossed,” said Huckins.
Varona was allowed to return to the U.S. earlier this month and was reunited with her two children and grandchildren.
“I’ve done a lot of work in Palestine and Israel and that conflict and realized there is a border and a wall right here in my backyard that I’m not familiar with,” said Huckins. “So I began to learn from people that were doing remarkable things around our border and immigration and Yolanda was one of them.”
Huckins said he was struck by Varona’s work and determination to help others as she used prayer and a peaceful approach to bring comfort to people, something Huckins believes the U.S. should do when it comes to immigrants and asylum seekers.
“You don’t have to live on the border to be engaged in the reality of immigration,” said Huckins. “I would say whether you’re a faith-based person or not, Jesus was an immigrant, one who was displaced, one who was outside of power, one who was ultimately killed by the system’s instructors of the empire.”