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Advocates condemn new plan for wall at Friendship Park

Migrant activists celebrate Christmas in binational Friendship Park as possible closure looms.
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Migrant activists celebrate Christmas in binational Friendship Park on Dec. 10, 2022.

The Friends of Friendship Park are condemning a new plan for 30-foot walls at the park along the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Tuesday, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced it was moving forward with a revised plan to replace the existing wall, which the agency described as "dilapidated."

The original replacement plan included 30-foot bollards and the removal of a pedestrian gate.

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For years that gate was the site where families separated by the border could reunite for brief periods, and the proposal to remove it raised an outcry among border advocates and local elected officials.

That outcry prompted CBP to pause the work, to collect public inputon the park's future.

On Tuesday, CBP said it had analyzed the public feedback.

"CBP has developed an approach that meets the border security needs of the area while also addressing feedback from the community," the news release said. "Upon completion of the project, CBP is committed to providing visitors on the U.S. side of the border with access to Friendship Park."

CBP said that access would involve a gate that would be open at designated times.

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"This will allow visitors on the U.S. side of the border to communicate with friends and family located in Mexico on the other side of the primary barrier like in years past," CBP said.

But in a written statement Wednesday, the Friends of Friendship Park said that access "does not offset the visual, practical, and symbolic damage that more 30-foot walls would cause. "

While CBP's announcement did not include details about the design, Friends of Friendship Park said the proposal "would erect two 30-foot walls across over 95% of the remaining 0.3 miles of the border."

The nonprofit also said there is a proposal to “dip” the primary border wall to 18 feet near the center of the park, but called that "a token and inadequate gesture."

Friends of Friendship Park planned a news conference on Thursday morning to address the new plan.

Advocates condemn new plan for wall at Friendship Park