Border Patrol Rushing To Build New 30-Foot Barriers At Friendship Park
Monday, December 14, 2020
Photo by Matthew Bowler
Friendship Park, on the US-Mexico border adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, has tied the binational community together. People on both sides of the border have shared prayer services, gardens, family reunions, and even sports.
In the waning days of the Trump administration, however, Border Patrol has told the stewards of the park that it plans to quickly replace the two fences that line it with two thirty-foot fences made of metal bollards.
“It’s a further desecration of this historic location. The location was designed to be a binational meeting place. It's been frequented by people for generations,” said John Fanestil, one of the organizers of the group Friends of Friendship Park. “The whole purpose of this place is binational encounter. To build these intimidating walls and to make it feel more like you’re visiting in prison is to really undermine the spirit of the place.”
In January of this year, Border Patrol demolished the U.S. side of the Friendship Garden, one of the areas of Friendship Park. The agency quickly said the demolition was unintentional and pledged to restore the garden.
Miles of replacement and new border fence built during the Trump administration were done under an emergency declaration that park advocates such as Fanestil want to see rolled back.
“It ever so slightly still feels like a park at Friendship Park,” he said. “But if they put up these bollard-style walls at that secondary location, it will change the visibility, it will feel like a dungeon.”
Advocates for Friendship Park hope the incoming Biden administration will not follow through on any contracts signed by the Trump administration.
Border Patrol told KPBS that the existing barriers no longer fulfill its “operational needs,” and that it plans to award contracts in the coming weeks, with the project to be completed by late 2021.
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