A well-known portion of the U.S.-Mexico border that connects loved ones in the two countries could be closed off due to plans by the Biden administration, several California news outlets reported.
The part of the border wall, Friendship Park, separates San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico.
It has been a way for families and friends to connect in person for decades, and the Nixon administration established it as a “federally designated binational meeting place” in 1971, according to Insider.
The plan includes two 30-foot barriers going through the park. Community activists said officials told them the construction wouldn’t include “pedestrian gate access” to the park.
It’s a move that park advocates, including Friends of Friendship Park’s John Fanestil, aren’t happy about it.
“This is not just any other stretch of border, it is arguably the most historic and culturally significant location on the border,” Fanestil said.
“We are asking for an immediate and complete halt to construction until a meaningful process of community engagement is able to be initiated.”
U.S. Border Patrol agent Tekae Michael told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Border Patrol will have “more information” on gate placement in the near future.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection also said it will “identify opportunities to provide the public with access once it is operationally safe to do so.”
Officials confirmed they needed to replace the wall as “current structures are no longer sound,” the newspaper reported.
Fanestil, however, said he doesn’t buy it.
“These new 30-foot walls would radically alter the shape and visual effect of Friendship Park, and in our view, if they build these walls, they are desecrating this landmark location,” Fanestil said.
Fanestil, in an interview with KPBS, referred to a promise Biden made during his 2020 presidential campaign when he said his administration would not construct “another foot of wall” on the border.
It’s been over two years since community members in California and Mexico have been able to use the park.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection blocked access to the park due to the heavy rains in February 2020, and it’s been closed through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friends of Friendship members said the agency didn’t contact its group over the new border wall design.
Fanestil called the choice a “slap in the face to the bi-national community.”