Access to Friendship Park included in barrier project

Border Report

Family and friends visit their loved ones on both sides of the United States-Mexico Border wall at Friendship Park in San Diego on Saturday, July 2, 2016. (SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Friendship Park visitors will soon get a chance to once again walk up to the border wall and meet with friends on the Mexican side.

For years, officials would open the gates on weekends, allowing families separated by the U.S.-Mexico border to mingle face-to-face at the barrier, even touching hands through the gaps.

But the Border Patrol blocked access to the park when it decided to replace the border walls. The agency has described the repairs as badly-needed, saying that the ocean water corroded the wall structures, making them unsafe for the general public, migrants and agents who patrol the area.

The agency paused work on the project in August to conduct stakeholder outreach and gather feedback from the community in San Diego.

When U.S. Customs and Border Protection replaces the deteriorated border barrier, which stretches out into the Pacific Ocean on the southwesternmost corner of the continental U.S., it will also provide visitors on the U.S. side of the border with access to Friendship Park.

A horseback rider overlooks the US-Mexico border wall at Friendship Park in San Diego, California on Nov. 18, 2018. (SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Like in years past, U.S. Border Patrol agents will coordinate access to the park through a gate in the secondary barrier once it is operationally safe to do so.

“After analyzing the feedback received during the pause, along with reviewing the operational conditions of U.S. Border Patrol in this immediate area, CBP has developed an approach that meets the border security needs of the area while also addressing feedback from the community,” CBP said in a statement.

Once construction is over, the Border Patrol also plans to restore the Bi-national Garden at Friendship Park. CBP anticipates that construction will be complete in approximately six months.

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