Hundreds of people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border joined together this weekend for the traditional "Posadas Sin Fronteras" (Posadas Without Borders), at which they recalled the thousands of families separated by strict immigration laws and those who have lost their lives in their attempt to achieve "the American Dream."

The annual gathering has been held for 19 years at so-called Friendship Park which divides San Diego, California, from Tijuana, a border city in Mexico's Baja California state.

The custom is for relatives and friends to gather on each side of the border to sing Christmas carols and share sweets, tamales and "champurrado" (a thick, hot drink made with ground corn and chocolate), all typical fare at this time of year, as well as to listen to the testimonials of immigrants.

Although on normal days, access to this area is limited to 10 people at a time, on this occasion that restriction was removed and about 150 people gathered on the U.S. side.

Christian Ramirez, the director of the Coalition of Communities South of the Border, hailed the fact that a tradition like Posadas Sin Fronteras has continued and allowed people on both sides of the frontier to move closer to each other.

"The fact that we're here, celebrating the posada, and that the walls have not prevented this coming together is to be celebrated, although civil society continues demanding a public place where walls do not impede solidarity, the exchange of embraces and smiles," Ramirez told Efe.

The Spanish word "posada" means "inn, shelter or hospitality," and it refers to the shelter Joseph and Mary sought at Bethlehem just before the birth of Jesus. EFE