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Customs and Border Protection says changes to Friendship Park border wall will include pedestrian gate

Reunions at Friendship Park haven’t happened in over two years, and border wall construction could delay that more. In a statement, Customs and Border Protection says there will be a pedestrian gate in the project plans, and that the agency will “identify opportunities to provide the public with access once it is operationally safe to do so.”

Friends of Friendship Park want answers about the future construction project for Friendship Park, and they are meeting with the Border Patrol Wednesday evening in an effort to get them.

John Fanestil with Friends of Friendship Park says they will be asking U.S. Border Patrol officials to consult with local stakeholders before any construction moves forward.

“We will be asking for a pause on all construction until a meaningful process of consultation with community stakeholders can be undertaken," Fanestil said. "This is the kind of consultation that was supposed to happen during this recent freeze on construction projects.”


He says the Biden Administration froze all border construction projects when taking office. But in May, authorization moved forward on several border projects, including replacing the border barrier in Friendship Park.

Fanestil said the new walls would be the 30-foot-tall walls that are already up on the east side of the park, but it's not clear how the public would get access.

Local lawmakers are also chiming in. Congressman Juan Vargas [D-51] led a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, urging a halt to all border remediation projects at Friendship Park until all stakeholders are fully briefed.

“I’m disappointed that after a productive discussion with Secretary Mayorkas regarding the preservation of Friendship Park, the border remediation project has still not addressed my original concerns of keeping the pedestrian gate open,” Rep. Vargas said. “Friendship Park means a great deal to me, my constituents and communities in our binational region. The plans to move the pedestrian gate 200 feet east and close public access conflict with the commitment Secretary Mayorkas made to ensure safety, security, and accessibility of Friendship Park, destroying the park’s intent to foster community between the United States and Mexico."

His letter got support from 15 fellow representatives including Rep. Scott Peters [D-52] and Rep. Sara Jacobs [D-53].


"The concern we share is that any construction would change what friendship park is all about," Peters told KPBS. "This is a place where people who are in America can go see their families and sit down, have a conversation, maybe worship together in a service, and we don't want the construction to do anything that would permanently prevent that from happening."

Jacobs said, “The San Diego delegation and I are pushing for Secretary Mayorkas to work with the Community and ensure any remediation projects reflect the spirit of the park and the community's wishes for it to be open for everyone."

In a statement, Customs and Border Protection said there will be a pedestrian gate and that the agency will “identify opportunities to provide the public with access once it is operationally safe to do so.”

CBP also says it recognizes the value of having a safe meeting place for families on both sides of the border.

Construction is expected to begin in September.

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