SAN DIEGO — Dozens of people, musicians and folk dancers gathered Sunday morning near the path to Friendship Park to protest the construction of a 30-foot border wall through the park.

Those present at the demonstration said that the wall through the park would destroy the connection between the U.S. and Mexico it provides — from brief encounters between visitors to the international community the space has facilitated.

“(Friendship Park is) where people on both sides of the border are able to share community together,” said Andrea Lorera, a U.S. resident and Mexican native who traveled from Los Angeles for Sunday’s rally.

Friendship Park is a historic binational park that spans about a half-acre along the southern border near San Diego. Inaugurated as a California State Park in 1971 by First Lady Pat Nixon, Friendship Park served as a meeting point between the two nations for decades.

The park was closed in 2019 for the Trump-era project to erect a 30-foot border wall along the southern U.S. border. However, construction has been held-up over the last few years, with Customs and Border Protection officials awaiting next steps on the plans.

“It’s been difficult to navigate what it would look like to keep my family connected,” said Selene Guiterrez, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient from Mexico.

Guiterrez was brought here at 5 years old. When the rest of her family was deported to Mexico in 2009, Friendship Park was the only way for her to see them, since she had to stay in the U.S.

The first and last time Guiterrez saw her grandparents before they died was in Friendship Park.

“It’s that friendship, that place of connection,” she said. “That place where family comes to meet at, a place of love. (That is) been the original vision.”

Before it closed, families could share a simple touch through an existing fence. That has been a drastic change for people who have seen the limitations increase throughout the decades.

“It breaks my heart,” said Leo Ike, a San Diego resident opposed to building the border wall through Friendship Park. “I can remember how it was, and how it is now.”

“In terms of why I’m here: restoration, let’s bring it back to what it was,” he continued.

Through folk dances and indigenous songs along with a roughly 1.5-mile march to the park, the message at the demonstration rang loudly: no 30-foot walls at Friendship Park.

“We don’t want divisions. We just want to be a part of the same place,” said one of the musicians at the rally to the crowd of people.

“It would destroy it. It would destroy Friendship Park,” Ike added.

Opponents to the wall want to see Friendship Park built up instead, returning it to the original purpose of the space as a symbol of international community.

“I would really love to see a place where people feel welcomed,” Gutierrez said, “where people feel like they can come here with no boundaries. They can come here without having to feel like they’re coming to a prison.”

“We want that safety back,” one of the performers said to the crowd. “We want them to be able to use the park to see each other when all the other policies don’t allow us … People deserve a right to continue to share love and music with each other.”

A small group of those present at the rally will travel to D.C on Tuesday, where they have a planned meeting with the White House to continue their plea to stop construction of the border wall through Friendship Park.

“We need this park, not just want. We need this park,” Gutierrez added.