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Protestors hold President's Day rally at the border to 'Save Friendship Park'

The Biden Administration plans to construct 30-foot walls across Friendship Park.

SAN DIEGO — Several protestors gathered at the U.S.-Mexico border wall Monday, calling on President Joe Biden to halt construction at Friendship Park.

"Saving Friendship Park is a worthy aspiration that we still have," said Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee. "There's still that opportunity to do so. President Biden needs to make a decision. That decision is quite clear."

The Biden Administration plans to construct 30-foot walls across Friendship Park. Rios said President Biden could either be remembered as the president who finished former President Donald Trump's border wall or he can be remembered as the president who saved Friendship Park.

In January, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced it is resuming construction to replace the border barrier at Friendship Park. It was temporarily put on hold in August 2022 as CBP received feedback from the community.

According to CBP, the project includes replacing the dilapidated primary and secondary border barriers along the border. It agreed to lower the wall to 18 feet for a 60 foot stretch, but protestors say that's not enough.

The park has served as a meeting spot for families and groups on both sides of the border for years. Though CBP said people would be allowed to continue using the park once construction is complete, protestors worry the park will never be the same. 

"Since last year, [President Biden] has been pushing for policies that resemble Trump's policies," said Rios. "It indicates that he is pointing toward the 2024 election with a harder stance on border issues. By implication, that means these decisions will impact border communities."

CBS 8 contacted the White House for comment but has not heard back.

Tuesday, CBS 8 received the following statement from CBP:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced a new path forward on January 17, 2023, for the U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) San Diego Friendship Circle Project to replace deteriorated primary and secondary border fence located adjacent to Friendship Circle in San Diego, California. Construction to replace the existing secondary fence will begin on February 13, 2023. During the additional stakeholder outreach period in late 2022, it was determined that access to Friendship Park was the top priority for the local community. As such, it was a high priority to CBP to begin construction to allow for future access to the park.

These initial construction actions will not impact the Friendship Park Circle or Binational Garden located adjacent to the primary fence and east of the Friendship Park. CBP is in the process of modifying the contract for the replacement of the primary fence, based on the approved path forward, which includes modifying the height at the approximately 60 feet adjacent to Friendship Park to 18 feet tall. USBP will coordinate with stakeholders to salvage any native and protected plants within the Binational Garden prior to construction activities for the primary fence. In addition, USBP remains committed to restoring the Binational Garden following the completion of construction activities.

The replacement of the primary and secondary fencing in the Friendship Park area will provide much needed improvements to the border infrastructure and will allow visitors on the U.S. side to access the Park, once construction is complete assuming it is operationally safe to do so, which has been closed for many years due to the condition of the existing fencing. This will allow visitors on the U.S. side of the border to communicate with friends and family located in Mexico on the other side of the primary barrier as in years past.

Rob Brisley
US Customs and Border Protection

WATCH RELATED: Border Patrol announces plans for the future of Friendship Park

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