SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — About half a dozen demonstrators hiked through California’s Border Field State Park to get to Friendship Park, located on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean.
It wasn’t just for exercise, it was to send a message.
Friendship Park is where the Department of homeland Security has been erecting two new, 30-foot barriers that will replace existing fencing that is much shorter, but damaged beyond repair, according to the Border Patrol.
The demonstrators have been trying for months to halt the project.
“We’re taking our case directly to President Biden, we’re asking him to stop construction of 30-foot walls at Friendship Park,” said John Fenastil with Friends of Friendship Park. “And we’re also asking Gov. Newsom to stand up for California values and for our border park.”
Fanestil and others say the new walls will harm the aesthetics of the area and will prevent people from both sides of the border from gathering at Friendship Park, which has been the place where friends and families could interact on weekends with the fence between them.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Border Patrol stopped public access to the park and has not allowed people into the area ever since.
“The federal authorities have made it impossible for people to enter Friendship Park for almost three years now people to come and see,” Fenastil said.
After more than a year of negotiating, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it would include a gate on the new fencing and would consider letting visitors into Friendship Park, which sits between the two fences but only when “operationally secure.”
The agency has also said the new walls are needed at the park because the existing barriers are decaying and about to fall down posing a threat to migrants, visitors and agents in the area.
But demonstrators don’t believe CBP will follow up and want the agency to stop construction altogether.
“This park should be open to the people of California and the people of California should be able to celebrate with their friends in Mexico,” said Fanestil.
After the demonstration, Fanestil and Dan Wattman, another member of Friends of Friendship Park, were cited by federal police for trespassing onto federal property.