'Door of Hope' slams shut after border wedding controversy

Posted at 6:12 PM, Jan 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-05 21:12:34-05

OTAY MESA, Calif. (KGTV) - Those emotional family reunions at the border are no more. 

10News has confirmed the so-called "Door of Hope" has slammed shut after an embarrassing revelation about a wedding at that site.

That day in mid-November, there was a flood of emotion at Friendship Park, as the border patrol opened up a gate, allowing 11 families to be together for several minutes. The event was organized by the group Border Angels, the fourth such event in the last two years.

RELATED: Groom in Friendship Park nuptials had criminal past

"I call it the 'Door of Hope' because it gives people hope," said Executive Director Enrique Morones.

Among the reunions was a tearful wedding ceremony, a line of border patrol agents nearby. The afterglow didn't last long. More than a month later, the past of the groom, Brian Houston, was revealed in published reports.

Houston is now awaiting sentencing after for trying to smuggle in more than 130 pounds of heroin, meth, and cocaine in February.

"The agents were upset, felt they were being used," said Joshua Wilson, spokesperson for the local border patrol union.

Wilson says agents now feel like they were hired security at cartel wedding.

So what went wrong?

Morones said Houston filled out a border patrol questionnaire, included his driver's license and passed the agency's background check. The Border Patrol has yet to say how that happened.

Morones said San Diego's new sector chief did have this to say to him at a Thursday meeting: the Door of Hope won't open in 2018.

"I'm saddened by not surprised," said Morones.

The decision was applauded by Wilson, who is not a fan of opening the gate.

"The agents are happy they won't be put in a compromised situation.  It puts agents close to the line, facing an increase chance of assault," said Wilson.

Morones says the only thing a shut door will prevent is an expression of love.

"Just very sad.  That's a very human emotion to touch your loved ones," said Morones.

Morones said he's now directing families to door-opening events in Texas. 10News reached out to the Border Patrol for a comment but have yet to hear back.