Friendship Park has been closed since March 2020. Photo by Chris Stone
State Sen. Ben Hueso joined a rising chorus of San Diegans opposing federal plans to upgrade the border wall and increase separation at Friendship Park.
“The operation of Friendship Park does not pose a threat to border security, while the benefits of this iconic site provides a connection between families separated by immigration policies,” Hueso said on Friday.
Hueso, a Democrat, called on the Biden Administration and Department of Homeland Security to pause plans to upgrade the wall and work with community organizations to preserve what he called a “binational symbol of hope.”
“Since its creation over 50 years ago, Friendship Park in Imperial Beach has been a symbol of hope for two communities united by a single vision,” Hueso said. “More recently, Friendship Park’s Friendship Circle has provided a gathering place where U.S. families can visit their deported family members.”
During the park’s dedication in1971, First Lady Pat Nixon ordered a stretch of barbed wire fence be cut out so she could cross into Mexico to meet a crowd that had gathered to welcome her to the border.
The park has been closed since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. DHS reportedly plans to build two additional walls parallel to the current barriers, increasing the separation at the park so that families cannot reach through the fence or potentially even see each other.
“It is disappointing to see the Biden Administration take these actions which will undo decades of community building work by local organizations on both sides of the border,” Hueso said. “I hope the Department of Homeland Security pauses these plans and begins to work with community organizations, like Friends of Friendship Park, to find a solution which preserves Friendship Park and the vision it sought to create over 50 years ago.”