The Biden administration has quietly given the green light to completing a border barrier separating Southern California from Mexico
The Biden administration has quietly given the green light to completing a border barrier separating Southern California from Mexico — a project that was initially planned by the Trump White House.
In late May, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would replace a “deteriorated barrier” located near the cross-border Friendship Park in Imperial Beach, just south of San Diego.
In the announcement, the Department said the barrier “has not been treated to withstand corrosion from nearby ocean waters and currently poses safety risks to Border Patrol agents, community members, and migrants.”
Funding for the project, DHS added, would be drawn from funds allocated to pay for Trump’s infamous border wall.
Late last month, immigration advocates said they were told construction would soon begin on two 30-foot barriers that would extend the existing wall all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Chula Vista Today, people could enter the park each weekend through gates on the US side of the wall to greet friends and relatives coming from the Mexican side.
That practice was stopped in March 2020, and advocates said they were told by Border Patrol officials that there are no current plans to put pedestrian gates in the new barrier.
“Border Patrol says they are just ‘replacing walls’ at Friendship Park, but the proposed construction amounts to a permanent closure of the U.S. side of this historic location,” John Fanestil, head of the San Diego-based Friends of Friendship Park coalition, said in a statement Tuesday.
“Joe Biden should not be putting the finishing touches on Donald Trump’s border wall at Friendship Park,” he added.
In a statement to CBS8 in San Diego Wednesday, a Border Patrol spokesperson told the outlet: “In the near future we should have more information regarding placement of gates.”
In its May announcement, DHS reiterated its call to Congress to “cancel remaining appropriations” for construction along the border and instead direct the funding toward “smart border security measures.”
This is not the first time Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has approved funding to be used to close unfinished construction gaps along the southern border, as he announced a similar order in December.
At the time, the department also specified that the funding would be used to “address life, safety, environmental, and remediation requirements for border barrier projects” in California, Arizona and Texas.
Immediately after taking office, President Biden ordered the end of border wall construction, leaving several gaps along the frontier.
In June 2021, DHS released a plan to reallocate the funds used by the Trump administration to build the wall and instead use them for repair projects, clean up of construction sites, and mitigating environmental damage.
The plans emerged as the southern border has seen record high numbers of migrant crossings – including a staggering 239,416 encounters in May.
The total number of encounters for June has yet to be released by Customs and Border Protection.