In a unique celebration at a small park on the San Diego border Sunday, a rusty steel door that is part of a fence built in the mid-1990s opened briefly, barely two minutes, long enough for an emotional reunion.
At 12:13, in an event attended by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and his fiancee Bronwyn Ingram, the heavy gate of Friendship Park opened and Luis Angulo was allowed to cross and hold his daughter Jimena, who is five years old and has lived all her life on the Tijuana side.
It was the first time they ever hugged, according to the story posted by UTSanDiego.com.
The emotional occasion was meant to commemorate Children's Day, which is celebrated across Latin America at the end of April.
"This is Friendship Park, the heart and soul of the immigration issue," said Enrique Morones, founder and president of Border Angels, the group that organized the celebration.
The park, also known as Border Field State Park, was dedicated in the 1970's by then first lady Patricia Nixon as a symbol of goodwill between the U.S. and Mexico.
Even when access was restricted, for many years relatives who live on either side of the border used to reunite at the park on weekends. Access was finally closed off in 2009 by the Department of Homeland Security.
"We got to work together. We got to build bridges and not walls and that's why we're here today," said San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.
Ingram said the gate opening was symbolic. “We’re one area and it’s great to celebrate that, and not think of the border as the end of the line or a cul-de-sac,” she told the San Diego newspaper. “We should be building bridges and opening gates instead of building these big walls that separate us.”