Heavy equipment is already at it and soon the final quarter-mile section of the border wall stretching into the ocean will be replaced by the 30-foot-higher version, matching the design of the administration of former President Donald Trump with a featured parallel section as a secondary barrier.
Even though Friendship Park has been closed, people still come on the weekends, yelling to each other from across the fencing. Or they just video chat, knowing they’re having a conversation with someone who is near.
With construction forging ahead and higher fencing, as proposed, stretching all the way into the ocean, the binational area known as Friendship Park may soon be history.
The Rev. Seth Clark is with the Friends of Friendship Park group, which is lobbying for a gate opening similar to what exists now, as it allows supervised visits.
But the Biden administration has already signed off on completing the Trump-era project, which was designed with no gate or even clear lines of sight.
“It’s really the only thing we have left, is this seeing people from afar,” Clark said on NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” Thursday. “No longer can we touch pinky tips at the fence, which is, you know, what we used to do. Uh, we can’t do anything physical except for see each other, and now we can’t really even do that.”
Construction of the higher fencing is expected to start in the next few weeks.
Sandra Sanchez, a south Texas border correspondent, joined “Rush Hour” Thursday to discuss the impact of the decision on the park.
She said Friendship Park was seen as an area where friends could come from both sides and visit relatives they haven’t seen in years to make a connection. “This will really cut that off. The community relies on this access. This has always been a place of unification.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, this is repair work to address “life, safety, environmental and remediation requirements,” as the barrier “has not been treated to withstand corrosion from nearby ocean waters and currently poses safety risks to Border Patrol agents, community members, and migrants.”
But the end result is looking like the end of Friendship Park.
“Goodwill across an international boundary, I think, would be a testimony to what this country is supposed to be all about. Yet we are closing down that space,” Clark said.
Biden had initially halted all border wall construction upon taking office, but with continuing migrant surges, the administration has recently been approving projects along the border, using repairs and remediation as underlying reasoning, as they have in Friendship Park.
NewsNation has reached out to DHS, which has not responded to an interview request.