A Mexican immigrant to the U.S. held his 5-year-old daughter for the first time during a ceremony along the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday, adding extra poignance to a brief event celebrating the Latin American Day of the Child.
“It’s a miracle,” Luis Angulo told KGTV-TV after his two-minute meeting with daughter Jimena. “For all these people to come to see their families. And it’s really a miracle for me.”
Angulo currently resides in the U.S. on a temporary visa, which allows him to work in the country but bars him from leaving. According to U-T San Diego, Jimena was born in Mexico, and Angulo has not prepared the paperwork necessary for her to be able to emigrate to the U.S. He also said he is working on getting a permanent visa.
The event also marked the first time the door at Friendship Park in San Diego was opened since being inaugurated by then-First Lady Pat Nixon in 1971. When it opened, the border was marked by a simple rope line, but the park quickly became a meeting point for families. Over the years, security measures increased; first came a chain link fence, then, as part of a crackdown on reported contraband smuggling, a tighter, steel fence was installed, and the park has been nearly closed as more fencing was added after 2009. The park reopened with limited hours in 2012.
Enrique Morones, founder of a local advocacy group, Border Angels, told the newspaper Sunday’s symbolic opening of the steel-bolted door was originally part of a toy-passing ceremony marking Día del Niño, as the occasion is known outside of the U.S. On Sunday, he compared the scene of Angulo and his daughter’s meeting to the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.
“That’s how the walls will fall,” Morones said. “They start with cracks and this was the first big crack, so very symbolic.”
Watch video from Angulo’s meeting with his daughter, aired on KGTV on Sunday, below.