The Biden administration is going to finish Trump’s 30-foot border wall at Friendship Park in San Diego.
On August 18, 1971, First Lady Patricia Nixon inaugurated Friendship Park, which stretches from the Pacific Ocean across a half-acre mesa that straddles the border between the United States and Mexico.
Friendship Park is binational, its circumference embraces Imperial Beach, California and Playas de Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico—America’s largest trading partner—and it represents trust and peace among the two nations. Mexico is the United States’ second largest export market.
Friendship Park is not facing destruction, as the presidential administration of Joe Biden is breaking campaign promises by preparing to put the finishing touches on former President Donald Trump’s border wall in San Diego, essentially destroying the symbol of friendship between the U.S. and Mexico that has stood for more than 50 years.
“Biden has approved plans to continue construction of Trump’s wall and destroy Friendship Park.” said one heartbroken member of Friends of Friendship Park, a group of people of who say that they not yet giving up the fight.
“We will meet this Thursday with decision-makers from the U.S. Border Patrol,” said Rev. John Fanestil, executive director of Via International, a San Diego nonprofit that serves as the fiscal sponsor of the community-based Friends of Friendship Park coalition, who said members of the community to gather at sunset the night before for a silent vigil outside.
Neighbors clearly do not want to give up on Friendship Park because they still aspire to live up to all that talk of ‘binationality’ because it is a genuine peace offering that works both ways.
Border International Park was created in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War, when a joint commission from the United States and Mexico erected a pyramidal statue on a beachside bluff south of what is today Imperial Beach, California to mark the initial boundary point between Mexico and the United States.
On August 18, 1971, the surrounding area in the United States was inaugurated as a California State Park by First Lady Pat Nixon.
Celebrating the first phase of what was envisioned as “International Friendship Park,” Mrs. Nixon declared, “I hope there won’t be a fence too long here.”
Reports of that 1971 summer day focussed not only on the new park but Nixon’s reaction to the land itself.
“I hate to see a fence here,” Nixon said as she ventured to find a gap in the barrier where she might actually step across into Mexico.
Various social events have taken place in this park, including yoga classes, religious services, weddings, dances, and baptisms.
Until 1994, there was only a simple barbed wire fence, and Americans and Mexicans could meet on the border under the supervision of the U.S. Border Patrol when nefarious forces sought to exploit bigotry and xenophobia to gain a political advantage by talking about immigration.
It’s not likely the First Lady or anyone else celebrating the new park that day, could have predicted the space would become a flashpoint for tension at the border and immigration policy decades later.
In reality, there seems little need for the paranoia behind immigration. Both countries celebrated freedom and until recent decades, travelers passed easily back and forth between the two nations, which remain among each other’s biggest customers.
The U.S. and Mexico traded goods and services worth an estimated total of $677.3 billion in 2019. Exports were $289.5 billion; imports were $387.8 billion.
“Almost everyone who visits this historic site at the westernmost end of the U.S.-Mexico border recognizes intuitively that it captures something essential about the borderlands — and this despite the fact that Border Patrol agents in San Diego have refused public access to the U.S. side of the park for the past two and a half years,” said Fanestil.
Hostility toward immigrants—who have historically been a defining American characteristic, and one of the United States’ most significant economic advantages.
Nearly 1,500 economists cited these benefits of immigration: increasing the number of entrepreneurs; bringing young workers who help offset the retirement of the baby boomers; increasing the flexibility and productivity of our workforce; and increasing the number of workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields that create jobs and increase American productivity.
In 2016, all six American Nobel Prize laureates in economics and sciences were immigrants.
In fact, immigrants are heavily overrepresented among American Nobel laureates in chemistry, medicine, and physics, receiving 40% of American Nobel prizes (31 of 78 prizes) while making up only 13.5% of the population, according to the Census American Community Survey.
More than 40% of Fortune 500 companies, including American icons like Apple, Budweiser, Google, and McDonald’s, were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.
A National Foundation for American Policy study found that over half of the 87 technology startups valued at over $1 billion were co-founded by immigrants, and on average, these companies had created 760 new jobs.
But after almost a decade of GOP slurs and insults, our top customers are getting angry, and while war is an unlikely prospect, consumers are going to pay a price for having hostile neighbors on our southern border.
Nearly two-thirds of Mexicans (65%) express a negative opinion of the U.S., more than double the share two years ago (29%). Mexicans’ opinions about the economic relationship with their country’s northern neighbor are also deteriorating, though less dramatically.
This erosion of Mexico’s goodwill toward the U.S. coincided with the low approval of President Donald Trump and his policies. An overwhelming 94% of Mexicans oppose Trump’s proposed border wall and only 5% had confidence in him to do the right thing regarding world affairs.
There were high expectations for the U.S.-Mexico relationship in January 2021 when President Joe Biden took office, but the Americans have been slow to shift away from the draconian policies that characterized Trump’s approach.
At the border in towns like Ciudad Juárez, and in cities of transit, like Tapachula, governments do little to stop coyotes, cartel members, and even National Guardsmen from preying on vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers.
Dispatches from both the US-Mexico and Mexico-Guatemala borders, highlighted harsh conditions migrants face at the hands of authorities.
Images of the Mexican National Guard in a phalanx, shooting tear gas and rubber bullets into a massive crowd of Central American migrants and pictures of American CBP agents on horseback, whipping Haitian migrants showed the reality of life for human beings trying to escape human rights violations such as torture or flee from armed conflicts or other violent crises.
“As more and more San Diegans celebrate our binational culture, the U.S. government is planning to construct two 30-foot walls across the face of Friendship Park, the de facto symbol of our binational region. Border Patrol officials insist they are just replacing the walls at the western end of the border,” said Fanestil. “But to anyone familiar with the site, the proposed extension of two massive walls all the way to the beach sounds like the permanent desecration of this iconic international venue.”
A binational park on the U.S.-Mexico border is not far-fetched, since several parks like that already exist on our border with Canada, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials know how to manage secure “neutral zones” at ports of entry as a matter of standing practice.
Tens of thousands of San Diegans have now parked their cars in the United States and walked across the Cross Border Xpress to catch a plane at the Tijuana International Airport.