Save Friendship Park!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SOLIDARITY. WE ARE NOW ENCOURAGING SUPPORTERS OF FRIENDSHIP PARK TO SIGN THIS PETITION ADDRESSED DIRECTLY TO PRESIDENT BIDEN:
Homeland Security officials announced plans last week to construct two 30-foot replacement border walls across the face of Friendship Park, the historic binational meeting place at the western-most end of the US-Mexico border just south of San Diego.
Expected to begin within a matter of weeks, the construction would eliminate access for United States citizens and residents to a treasured park that is a place where separated families can reunite, where worshipers on both sides of the border can celebrate communion together, where dedicated volunteers and the public meet at the Binational Garden of Native Plants, and where cross border friendship honors our shared humanity and strengthens our security.
The iconic site of Friendship Park is home to the original boundary-marker erected at the end of the U.S.-Mexico War to mark the spot where the new international boundary reached the Pacific Ocean. In 1971, then-First Lady Pat Nixon inaugurated the surrounding area in the United States as California’s Border Field State Park. On that occasion Mrs. Nixon declared, “I hope there won’t be a fence too long here,” and cast a vision for the creation of what she called “International Friendship Park.”
Pat Nixon greeting peopel in Mexico during innaguration of Border Field State Park Aug 18th, 1971
Most of the border just south of San Diego was “double-walled” under George W. Bush Administration. Double walls on the border create a strip of federal property which -- when coupled with advanced surveillance technologies -- enhance the ability of Border Patrol agents to detect and apprehend people attempting to cross the border without authorization.
In the first years of the Barack Obama Administration, however, local communities secured certain design and staffing concessions from DHS officials for the construction of walls at Friendship Park, in deference to the site’s unique historical and cultural significance.
These concessions have made it possible for people from Mexico and the United States to connect with friends and family at Friendship Park across the last ten years. For limited hours on Saturdays and Sundays, Border Patrol officials opened a pedestrian gate in the outer, or “secondary” wall, allowing visitors in the United States to approach the “primary wall,” located precisely on the international boundary. There they could touch fingertips with loved ones in Mexico.
Thousands of “transnational” families have reunited at Friendship Park, capturing the hearts and imaginations of leaders from both nations, and the attention of media from around the world.
After campaigning on the promise not to build “one more inch of wall,” Joe Biden signed an executive order freezing border wall construction on his first day in office. More recently, however, Biden’s Department of Homeland Security has been “unfreezing” a number of Trump-era construction projects on the border using funding instruments and design protocols fashioned during the Trump Administration.
According to San Diego Border Patrol officials, plans for replacing the walls along the westernmost stretch of the border will adhere to these Trump-era design protocols and do not include a pedestrian gate in the secondary wall at Friendship Park and remove a 60-ft rolling gate installed for large traditional gatherings such as the Posada Sin Fronteras and the Fandango Fronterizo. The lack of site-specific designs and accommodations means San Diego Border Patrol agents will effectively eliminate public access to the U.S. side of this unique location for the first time since the border was established here in 1848.
In a recent call with community leaders, Border Patrol officials insisted they were just replacing the border walls at Friendship Park. But the proposed construction of two massive walls and the planned elimination of public access amounts to the permanent desecration of this historic international venue. Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security should not be putting the finishing touches on Donald Trump’s border wall.
We demand immediate intervention by DHS Secretary Mayorkas to use his power to halt the construction and inlcude local stakeholders can input in a design that will allow Friendship Park to re-open!
From: [Your Name]
Dear Mr. Mayorkas,
The U.S. Border Patrol Agency plans to initiate construction this summer of new border walls at the Southwest corner of the U.S. in San Diego, with a design that will eliminate future access to Friendship Park with 30 ft walls that are antithetic to the purpose of the park and the needs of the community. We implore you to immediately halt the construction process in order to consult with community stakeholders on the intended design.
People from Mexico and the United States have been able to connect with friends and family at Friendship Park for decades. Although the double wall construction since 9/11 made that connection more difficult, for limited hours Border Patrol officials opened a pedestrian gate in the current outer, or “secondary” barrier, allowing visitors in the United States to approach the “primary barrier,” the densely webbed fence where U.S. residents could touch fingertips with loved ones in Mexico.
According to San Diego Border Patrol officials, plans for replacing the walls along the westernmost stretch of the border will adhere to Trump-era design protocols and do not include a pedestrian gate in the secondary wall at Friendship Park. The lack of site-specific designs and accommodations means San Diego Border Patrol agents will effectively eliminate public access to the U.S. side of Friendship Park, perhaps permanently, for the first time since the border was established here in 1848.
Thousands of “transnational” families have reunited at Friendship Park, capturing the hearts and imaginations of leaders from both nations, and the attention of media from around the world. Now it appears that the Biden Administration may allow the closure of Friendship Park on the U.S. side, denying access to American citizens and residents.
We the undersigned request your immediate intervention to allow for stakeholder input that accounts for the need of the community and for Friendship Park to re-open.