LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As the immigration debate rages on in Washington, it was a joyous day in the heart of Los Angeles Thursday, as over a dozen local families reunited with relatives some hadn’t seen in more than two decades.

Seventeen families from the western Mexican state of Nayarít met with their L.A.-based loved ones at City Hall, with some donning the traditional clothing of the indigenous Cora people of the state. It was the culmination of years of lobbying to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services.

“We see the importance of family values expressed here this afternoon,” L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo told CBS2 News. “This is incredible. It’s emotional. It’s historic,” Cedillo continued.

William Palapa said his father had not seen his grandmother in 24 years, adding, “This was a pretty big deal for him.”

“We’re gonna take her all around Los Angeles, get to know the city — Disneyland, maybe,” Palapa told CBS2.

This comes as Congress sits on the precipice of another federal government shutdown, due in part to the lack of consensus on comprehensive immigration reform and the question of so-called ‘Dreamers.’

“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,” Cedillo told reporters.

“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.”

The 17 families were chosen out of 200 applicants by the state of Nayarít, granting them temporary visas and paying for the travel and application costs, City News Service reported.

The families will be allowed to visit the U.S. for two weeks.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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