SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Border wall construction officially came to a halt on Wednesday after an executive order from President Joe Biden. Now, a group in San Diego wants to take it a step further asking for portions of the barrier to be removed altogether.
The idea is to take down the fencing and create a binational gathering place at what is now Border Field State Park on the southwestermost corner of the continental United States.
This is an area known for sections of the wall extending into the surf in the Pacific Ocean.
The park was first dedicated in 1971 by then First Lady Pat Nixon.
“On that occasion, she said, ‘I hope this is the first phase of what will become an international friendship park,'” said John Fanestil with Via International, a non-profit based in San Diego that claims to work across borders, engaging leaders to promote sustainable development in under resourced communities.
Fanestil says it’s time to complete what Nixon wanted.
“It would be a space where people could enter securely from either side, either nation, and share a common ground together just like they would in any park, and they would exit that common place that they passed through via the appropriate channels such as Customs,” he said.
Right now, the park is only open on weekends when the Border Patrol opens a gate in an inner fence allowing people the chance to walk up to the main barrier and hold hands and talk to loved ones and friends on the Mexico side of the barrier.
Fanestil says this would take it a step further.
“It will develop solid relationships, friendships in a shared space where public safety will always be at a premium but a place where people can gather and congregate together, that’s just good for everybody, and it improves relations between both countries, and it improves the lives of people by meeting with extended families because this might be the only way they can see loved ones,” said Fanestil.
Fanestil admits this is an idea they hope gains momentum. They have begun asking for concepts and plans from community members.
“Those admissions are in fact open at buildthatpark.org, so architects, designers, urban planners so forth can submit designs. We’re hoping to capture the public’s imagination.”
The plan is to unveil ideas in August during a ceremony to commemorate the park’s 50th anniversary.
“We’re going to invite First Lady Jill Biden to celebrate the anniversary, we don’t know if she’ll accept our invitation but we hope she will and maybe catch the same dream that Pat Nixon had,” said Fanestil.
Whether it becomes reality remains to be seen, an act of Congress would be required. There are several international “friendship parks” already in place along the border with Canada.