SAN DIEGO — U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced a temporary pause on border wall construction near Friendship Park.
“We have heard concerns about the project as currently planned, and it is important to me to be responsive to the local community on this issue. I look forward to continued conversations with the community regarding this project during the pause,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement.
The park is unique, as it serves as a space where people can reunite with loved ones from both sides of the border.
“Over the last many years, it’s become a celebrated place where families who are separated by immigration status can be reunited with their loved ones,” said John Fanestil, with Friends of Friendship Park.
CBP construction plans are to replace existing fencing near the park with 30 foot walls, which Fanestil says will change the landscape of the park.
“From the Mexican side, it would complete eliminate visibility to San Diego and Point Loma,” said Fanestil.
CBP said it plans on continuing construction, but did not say when. Instead, the agency mentioned when it would plan to open Friendship Park.
“Upon completion of the barrier construction in the Friendship Park area, CBP is committed to opening the park a minimum of two days each month, allowing members of the public back into the park for the first time since 2019,” officials said in a statement.
Fanestil says two days in a month would be less than in previous years.
“It’s been the most restricted it’s ever been – during regular operation it’s been two days every weekend – so if that is the benchmark that we are starting from, we are proposing a 75% reduction of access from the most restrictive terms we have ever seen,” Fanestil said.
Friends of Friendship Park says the pause is a good first step toward a longer conversation CBP needs to have with several stakeholders.
“Our view is — that (is a) resource for the entire region and needs to be made more accessible, not less accessible for that less phase of construction,” Fanestil said.