04/30/2013 10:59 am ET Updated May 01, 2013

Luis Angulo, Mexican Immigrant, Hugs Daughter For 1st Time As San Diego Border Gate Opens Briefly

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The San Diego border this weekend was the scene of an emotional but fleeting moment that, for some advocates, sums up the "human face" of America's immigration policy debate.

After officials briefly opened a gate along the United States-Mexico border, Mexican immigrant Luis Angulo, who says he lives in the U.S. on a temporary visa, was able to hug his 5-year-old daughter, Jimena, for the first time ever.

"It's a miracle," Angula told reporters afterward, according to San Diego's ABC affiliate 10News. "For all these people to come to see their families ... it's really a miracle for me."

Angulo was given the opportunity as part of a historic ceremonial opening of a decades-old gate near Friendship Park, a small park along the border, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune. The gate was built in the mid-1990s and has never been opened.

Family members on either side of the fence who come to Friendship Park can talk through a steel-mesh fence, reported Patch Imperial Beach (which, like The Huffington Post, is owned by Aol). Although the park was slated to close because of budget cuts, San Diego Sector Border Patrol Chief Paul Beeson announced earlier in April that it would stay open -- with limited hours.

Enrique Morones, an immigration advocate and founder of the Border Angels organization, said the ceremony had broad implications and compared the border fence to the Berlin Wall in Germany.

"That's how the walls will fall," Morones told 10News. "They start with cracks and this was the first big crack, so very symbolic."

The gate might not have opened at all, however, if not for the efforts of Jim Brown, a longtime Friendship Park volunteer who took it upon himself to oil the gate's never-used and badly rusting hinges.

“I came out with some WD-40," Brown told Frontera Desk. "It was kind of comical -- a little tiny can from a convenience store, spraying it on the hinges. No, it would not budge. So Border Patrol came out with some torches and what not, and popped it open.”

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and his fiancée Bronwyn Ingram were also in attendance Sunday, and U-T San Diego reported that Ingram seemed particularly moved by the reunion of Angulo and his daughter.

“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,” Ingram said. “We should be building bridges and opening gates instead of building these big walls that separate us.”

(h/t Raw Story)


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