The iconic landmark meeting place that represents reunion and the binational proximity of the San Diego-Tijuana region will be divided by two 30-foot walls,officials announced Tuesday.
Friendship Park, otherwise known as El Parque de la Amistad, sits on the western-most end of the U.S. Mexico border just south of San Diego. Advocates from Friends of Friendship Park coalition announced Tuesday the park is slated for permanent closure to the public in the U.S. after Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas approved construction plans.
The plan aims to extend the 30-foot "bollard-style" walls placed to the east of the park in 2019 is near completion, Paul Enriquez, Real Estate and Environmental Infrastructure Portfolio Deputy Director for U.S. Border Patrol told leaders from the local Friends of Friendship Park coalition earlier this month.
Assistant Chief of San Diego Border Patrol Alfonso Martinez and Imperial Beach Station Chief Justin De La Torre told the nonprofit that the plans do not presently include a pedestrian gate in the secondary wall.
Officials say construction is expected to begin within a matter of weeks. The construction aims to complete a project funded in the Fiscal Year 2018, using designs authorized by the Trump Administration.
“Joe Biden should not be putting the finishing touches on Donald Trump's border wall at Friendship Park,” said John Fanestil, convener of the San Diego-based fends of Friendship Park coalition.
A U.S. Border Patrol Spokesperson said “This project will replace the deteriorated primary and secondary barrier located adjacent to Friendship Circle in Imperial Beach, California,” CBS8 reported.
According to the spokesperson, the current primary barrier was “not properly treated to withstand the corrosion from the adjacent ocean before it was installed”.
“It is no longer structurally sound and is falling apart, which presents risks to Border Patrol agents, community members, and migrants,” the spokesperson wrote in an emailed response.
According to the nonprofit, the U.S. federal government took the land by eminent domain from California in 2006.
“After waiving dozens of laws intended to protect public spaces like this one, constructed an elaborate system of walls across the face of Friendship Park,” Friends of Friendship Park wrote in a statement.
The San Diego Border Patrol officials opened the U.S. Side of Friendship park in 2011 for limited hours each weekend, allowing people from the United States to enter between the two border walls. According to the nonprofit, visitors could speak through a thick metal mesh that covers the “primary wall”.
The San Diego Border Patrol temporarily closed the U.S. Side of Friendship park in March 2020.