Dan Watman is one of many activists upset by the construction of the triple fence currently under construction along the San Diego/Tijuana border. Watman runs Border Meetup, a group that holds yoga, dance and other events at Friendship Park, a section of Border Field State Park in San Ysidro where families separated by the U.S.-Mexico border fence often go to meet up with one another. The park was recently sealed off for construction, but Border Patrol and California State Park officials told Watman and others that the section of the park near what’s become known as “Friendship Monument” could still be accessed through a pedestrian gate and walkway so families could continue to meet and even touch one another through the fence.
But at a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 6, (Sorry; I got the date wrong in the video and am working on fixing it) Watman says the activists in attendance were told by Border Patrol representatives that the access would no longer be allowed. Clay Phillips, the superintendent of Border Field State Park, was at the meeting and he says even he was surprised by the sudden change of heart.
“Previously,” said Phillips, “the plans included a pedestrian gate and walkway to the park and the monument. We had anticipated public access to the area.”
Jerry Conlin, a public affairs officer for the San Diego sector of the United States Border Patrol, said the decision was made because of security concerns.
“It’s been very difficult to monitor that area,” said Conlin. He said Border Patrol was having problems with people throwing things over the fence and passing across drugs.
Watman and others are busy protesting the decision. He says he hopes the change of administration will help to reverse the decision and reinstate access to Friendship Park, or even halt the construction of the triple fence altogether.
VIDEO TIP: Click play then pause and let the video load fully before you try to view it; otherwise, you’ll have issues. If you still have problems, try viewing it here. Also, I’m still working on checking on the dates in the text. It’s a rough cut, so bare with me here. I have the date of the first fence being built in 1993, but Border Patrol is saying it was more like 1989. Also, they said the material was from Vietnam-era landing pads. Oh, and the secondary fence was built at different times in different places. Does anybody out there have a link to a good resource in terms of the history of the border fence? I can’t seem to find anything with a good time-line!