SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Families who are divided by the California-Mexico border will once again be able to meet at Friendship Park.
It’s located on the southwest corner of continental United States within Border Field State Park, which like most of California’s state parks, has remained closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began a year ago.
Friendship Park is the only gathering spot where families can meet and talk through the fence.
In a statement, California State Parks spokesman Jorge Moreno told Border Report the plan is to re-open to vehicles and pedestrians sometime in June.
He stated that opening the park and granting access is predicated on roads being clear. Right now, the main roadway needs some maintenance and is flooded due to a recent storm.
“Criteria for park re-opening includes non-flooded roads and trails,” Moreno wrote. “Additional criteria include the ability to meet county health sanitation standards for COVID-19,”
Once the park reopens, a group called Via International hopes to turn the area into a bi-national gathering spot where people from both Mexico and the U.S. can gather without being divided by the fence.
The notion already exists at several sites between Canada and the U.S. but there’s nothing like it on the southern border.
Concepts for the bi-national park idea are expected to be unveiled during a celebration planned for August when Friendship Park turns 50. In 1971, then-first lady Pat Nixon cut the ribbon for the brand-new park.
The current first lady, Jill Biden, has been invited to attend this summer’s event. Organizers hope she will accept and help promote the idea.
Biden is no stranger to the border. In December 2019, she visited the migrant tent encampment in Matamoros, Mexico, where she helped volunteers hand out tamales to some of the youngest asylum-seekers.
In the meantime, Customs and Border Protection has yet to announce whether it will continue to allow people to gather at the fence once the park reopens.
“Once Border Field State Park reopens, San Diego Sector will evaluate the operational feasibility of allowing public access to Friendship Circle,” said Jeff Stephenson, Supervisory Border Patrol Agent.