SAN DIEGO — A group dedicated to saving Friendship Park, which sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, announced it has reached out to President Joe Biden asking him to stop a border wall construction project in the area.
The park is where people have traditionally gathered at the border to meet with family and friends who stand or sit on the Mexico side, with the barrier between them.
For decades, Border Patrol agents have controlled entrance to the area, but this stopped as the pandemic began. Access has yet to resume.
In February, the Department of Homeland Security began a project to increase the height of two existing barriers from 18 to 30 feet.
DHS and Border Patrol say they need to replace fencing currently in place because it is corroding and has become a danger to the public, migrants and the agents who patrol the area.
Friends of Friendship Park and other opponents maintain there is no need for the taller walls and would be OK if the shorter structures were simply repaired. Now, they worry the new walls will ruin the aesthetics of the park and block views immediately south of the border where Tijuana’s iconic bullring and lighthouse sit.
They’re also concerned public access to the park may not resume once the project is done.
“I’ve been assured by federal officials there will be a gate there and they will re-establish visiting hours,” said John Fanestil with Friends of Friendship Park. “However, they haven’t always kept their promises, but we’re very much hoping they stick to those commitments.”
Fanestil stated a coalition of local leaders travelled to Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago and met with people in the Biden Administration to ask the President to stop the project.
Currently, the first barrier is under construction.
Upon its completion, the second structure, the one that actually separates Mexico and the United States, will be installed running all the way into the ocean like the existing wall does.
“We met with White House officials and put everything on the table,” said Adriana Jasso, a human rights advocate based in San Diego. “We are waiting to hear back from them about construction of the walls or as we say destruction of Friendship Park.”
Jasso stated that Representative Juan Vargas from San Diego has recruited 17 fellow congressmen from California who have signed a request urging Biden to stop the work at Friendship Park.
The project was expected to last six months, but heavy rains earlier this year delayed the construction.
Both new walls should be up by September unless the President stops the work.