SAN DIEGO ( Associated Press) — The Joe Biden administration has agreed to reduce the height of part of a planned border wall in the far southwestern part of the US territory, activists said Thursday, calling the concession merely symbolic.
Work was suspended last August on Parque de la Amistad / Friendship Park, which was inaugurated in 1971 by then-First Lady Pat Nixon as a symbol of ties between the United States and Mexico. For decades, visitors to the waterfront park between San Diego and Tijuana could easily interact and engage in physical contact, but over the last 15 years access from the US side has gradually decreased.
Following public consultation, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has agreed to reduce the height of the 60-foot (18 m) tall double wall, said Reverend John Fainestil of the Friends of Friendship Park. In that section, the wall, which is usually 30 feet (9.1 m) high, will be 18 feet (5.5 m) high.
CBP did not respond to questions about the new design. But it said in a statement released Tuesday that it had “developed a plan that meets border security needs in the region while addressing community concerns.” He expects construction to resume in the next few weeks and will take about six months.
National Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has approved the changes, Fainestil said at a press conference.
Chris Magnus, who was fired last November after less than a year as CBP commissioner, suspended work resulting from a bid awarded during the previous administration, saying he would first Wanted to understand the concerns.
A week ago, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador thanked Biden for not building “not one meter” of the border wall, which is not entirely true. While Trump built hundreds of miles, Biden embraced smaller projects in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas; Yuma, Ariz.; and San Diego, California.
Fainstill said the San Diego project includes a 0.3-mile (480-meter) stretch of double wall that is currently 18 feet (5.5 meters) high. In addition to its height, it will be constructed with closely spaced steel bollards, which will further obstruct the view than the current material.
Friendship Park, the organization behind Friendship Park, said in a statement: “The proposal to ‘reduce’ the primary boundary wall by 5.5 meters (18 ft) to a small section near the center of Friendship Park is a symbolic and unfair gesture. “
CBP has agreed to maintain a policy of opening the exterior gate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays to allow 25 people to interact with people on the Mexican side through the steel mesh barrier.