SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Every Sunday afternoon, dozens of people hike for about 40 minutes to reach one of the most iconic spots along the southern border so they can pray with fellow parishioners standing on the other side of the border barrier.
They’ll use microphones, cellphones, iPads and even yell back and forth to communicate and participate during the church service.
They’ve been doing this for 10 years.
This all happens on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Border Field State Park, which is operated by the state of California.
“We’ve had to resort to what we’ve learned during the pandemic, Zoom, Facebook Live, intercom systems, telephones and microphones, so we’re even yelling now during the Mass from one side to the other,” said Alexis De Bram.
Ideally, according to De Bram, they would like to get closer to a particular section along the border barrier known as Friendship Park where people had gathered for decades prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But this piece of real estate remains off-limits per the Border Patrol, which oversees access.
“We’ve begged Border Patrol to please open Friendship Park and they deny it, they refuse to open Friendship Park,” said De Bram. “Over decades, people come here to connect with friends, relatives, people come here from many miles away, Chicago, Denver, and they drive to meet with their relatives and loved ones. Then the wall started going up and we were limited to Saturdays and Sundays four hours a day, but now there’s no way for people coming from anywhere to join their loved ones.”
The Border Patrol has said it doesn’t have the personnel to safely monitor access, and that for the time being, Friendship Park will remain closed.
“We used to do yoga, guitar lessons, dancing lessons, the binational garden was here, the same plants on this side are on the Mexican side, but Border Patrol refuses to let us in,” said De Bram. “All we’re asking for is that they open it once or twice a month.”
Although Border Patrol did not respond to a request for comment about the likelihood of opening Friendship Park, it has stated in the past that it continues to consider opening the area once again, but that for now, it’s just not possible.