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Groups ask Border Patrol to stop border wall replacement at Friendship Park

Posted at 6:11 AM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 10:08:55-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) — The fight over Friendship Park in San Diego's South Bay continued Tuesday afternoon as local groups held a vigil and once again asked the Border Patrol to reconsider a proposed border wall renovation, approved by Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, that would replace deteriorating existing walls.

Tuesday's vigil was held ahead of a meeting the Friends of Friendship Park have Wednesday evening with Border Patrol officials.

In late May, the Department of Homeland Security authorized Customs and Border Protection to move forward with a number of border wall projects along the U.S. southern border, including in San Diego.

The plan, according to DHS, would replace deteriorated barriers located adjacent to Friendship Circle, but local groups say that would ruin the park's bi-national history.

CBP says the current primary barrier was not properly treated to withstand corrosion from the ocean before it was installed. Now, the barrier is reportedly not structurally sound, falling apart and a risk to the agents, community members and migrants.

The Friends of Friendship Park group says the proposed replacement wall is modeled after the wall built during the Trump administration. The group says they want bi-national, pedestrian access, something that hasn’t happened since before the pandemic.

A spokesperson for CBP sent the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recognizes the value of having a safe meeting place for families and friends on both sides of the border. Upon completion of the San Diego Friendship Circle Project, including the replacement of a secondary barrier with a pedestrian gate in this area, we will identify opportunities to provide the public with access once it is operationally safe to do so. While these opportunities will continue to need to be based on other U.S. Border Patrol operational requirements, the replacement construction project will not be an impediment to potential opportunities for future access in this location. Upon completion of discussions with stakeholders and receipt of the schedule from the construction contractor, CBP will determine when construction will commence. 

This project will replace the deteriorated primary and secondary barrier located adjacent to Friendship Circle in Imperial County, California. The current primary barrier, which included a monument gate, was not properly treated to withstand the corrosion from the adjacent ocean before it was installed. It is no longer structurally sound and is falling apart, which presents risks to Border Patrol agents, community members, and migrants. The current secondary barrier was partially removed in preparation for new barrier construction prior to the pause. While it has been temporarily repaired, it is not structurally sound, resulting in a safety risk to Border Patrol agents, community members, and migrants. 

The meeting between the Border Patrol and the Friends of Friendship Park is set for Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Border Patrol headquarters in Chula Vista.