Mayor Bob Filner, his fiancé Bronwyn Ingram, and Border Angels founder Enrique Morones made history Sunday, April 28, by going into Mexico via a newly built gate in the fence, opened for the first time during the Binational Day of the Child celebration. Agents from the U.S. Border Patrol helped architect Jim Brown open the gate. A sea of Tijuana residents and news media cheered the moment.
But no one found the history more poignant than a young father, who met his daughter for the first time when she rushed through the gate into his waiting arms. The unidentified young man cried and hugged the little girl, then crouched with his face pressed against hers at the fence long after the gate was again closed.
"I was supposed to hug the children, but when I realized it was the first time he ever saw her, I pushed him in front," Ingram said. "It just seemed like what the park is about and what the moment was really about."
The historic moment was facilitated by Border Patrol community affairs liaisons, after the federal agents unlocked the iron gates at the park entrance and brought a caravan of about 75 people to Friendship Park, about a mile and a half from the gates.
"To have the Border Patrol allow us to open the door and hug children, to have a father and daughter hug for the first time — it was a wonderful moment and I am grateful to be part of it," Ingram said. "I hope it signals a movement toward a more humane immigration and family reunification policy."
Morones and Rev. John Fanestil have been holding prayer services between the main fence and the secondary fence with the help of the Border Patrol since October, after the Border Patrol began staffing the gate at the secondary fence every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Families separated by the border can meet at the fence and catch up — once those on the American side make the walk there. (On the Mexican side, people can drive to the old bullfighting ring at the beach in Las Playas.)
Dan Watman's International Friendship Garden was open and flourishing, and the Mariachi Divinas sang at the event, which ended with the Border Patrol escorting the caravan back to the park's outer parking lot. The Border Patrol escort through the state park made it possible for people with limited mobility to attend the event and for families with small children to drive in.