Wall construction to resume in San Diego park

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The Joe Biden administration has agreed to lower the height of part of the 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 at 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 converse and engage in physical contact, but access has gradually diminished from the US side over the past 15 years.

After public consultations, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has agreed to lower the height of a 60-foot (18-meter) long stretch of double wall, the Rev. John Fanestil said. , from Friends of the Friendship Park. In that section, the wall, which is normally 30 feet (9.1 meters) high, will be 18 feet (5.5 meters) 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 area while addressing community concerns." He expects construction to resume in the next few weeks and take about six months.

National Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas approved the changes, Fanestil said at a press conference.

Chris Magnus, who was fired as CBP commissioner last November after less than a year in the role, suspended work stemming from a bid awarded during the last administration, saying he first wanted to understand community concerns.

A week ago, the president of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador thanked Biden for not building “not one meter” of a border wall, which is not completely true. While Trump built hundreds of miles, Biden has embraced small projects in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas; Yuma, Ariz.; and San Diego, Calif.

The San Diego project involves a 0.3-mile (480-meter) stretch of double wall that currently stands 18 feet (5.5 meters) high, Fanestil said. In addition to its height, it will be manufactured with closely spaced steel bollards, which will further obstruct the view compared to the current material.

“The proposal to 'lower' the primary border wall to 5.5 meters (18 feet) for a small stretch near the center of Friendship Park is a symbolic and inappropriate gesture,” the organization Friends of Friendship Park said in a statement.

CBP has agreed to leave intact a policy to open an exterior gate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays so that up to 25 people can converse with people on the Mexican side through a steel mesh barrier.

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