The Biden administration agreed on Thursday to halt plans for a double border wall that critics say would effectively destroy the 51-year-old Ocean Park, a symbol of friendship between the United States and Mexico.
US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus said he wanted to hear community concerns before settling on a wall design for Friendship Park, which was inaugurated in 1971 by then-First Lady Pat Nixon. For decades, park visitors could easily communicate between San Diego and Tijuana but access gradually decreased over the past 15 years from the US and closed completely for more than two years.
Magnus, a former Tucson, Arizona police chief who took office in December, met with Border Patrol officers at Friends of Friendship Park for a pause of less than a week after asking them to halt construction for 120 days. Ordered, which was expected to start soon. ,
“We’ve heard concerns about the project currently going as planned, and it’s important for me to be accountable to the local community on this issue,” Magnus said. “I look forward to continuing conversations with the community about this project during the pause.”
Magnus said the public would have access to the park at least two days a month, but gave no other details.
Its design has not been made public, but Friends of Friendship Park said border patrol officers told the group last week that there would be two 30-foot-high (9.1 m high) hard-spaced steel boulders, like hundreds of miles. The wall which was built during the presidency of Donald Trump. Currently in Friendship Park a double wall is smaller or easier to see.
The Rev. John Fanstill of Friends of Friendship Park said at a news conference last week that the views from Tijuana would be severely curtailed.
“We see the current proposal as the nail in the coffin of Friendship Park,” he said.
On Thursday, Fanstill hailed the construction break as “a step in the right direction”, but said Friends of Friendship Park would open the park two days a month – the minimum pledged by CBP – for the Binational Park of Native Plants. Inadequate, cross-border religious services and other community events.
The National Border Patrol Council, a union that represents agents, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Soon after President Joe Biden took office, one of Trump’s top domestic priorities, halted construction on border walls but has allowed work under very limited conditions. Last week, the administration said it was filling four gaps in an unfinished Trump-era wall in Yuma, Arizona, which has become one of the busiest corridors for illegal crossings.