The Biden administration agreed to lower part of a border wall planned in the southwest corner of the continental US, advocates said Thursday in dismissing the concession as a token gesture. Opposition prompted a construction pause in August at Friendship Park, which was inaugurated in 1971 by then-first lady Pat Nixon as a symbol of ties between the US and Mexico. For decades, visitors to the oceanfront park between San Diego and Tijuana could easily converse and touch, but access gradually diminished from the US over the past 15 years, the AP reports.
After receiving public feedback, US Customs and Border Protection agreed to lower a double wall for 60 feet, said the Rev. John Fanestil of Friends of Friendship Park. In that section, the height will dip to 18 feet from 30 feet. CBP said in a news release that it "developed an approach that meets the border security needs of the area while also addressing feedback from the community." It expects construction to resume early this year and take about six months. Chris Magnus, who was ousted as CBP commissioner in November, had paused work on the Trump-era contract, saying he wanted to first understand community concerns.
The decision comes a week after Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador thanked President Biden for building "not even one meter of border wall," which is not entirely true. While Trump built hundreds of miles, Biden has pursued small projects in Texas' Rio Grande Valley; Yuma, Arizona; and San Diego. The San Diego project involves a double-layer wall made of tightly spaced steel bollards, which are more difficult to see through than current material. "The proposal to 'dip' the primary border wall to 18 feet for a small stretch near the center of Friendship Park is a token and inadequate gesture," Friends of Friendship Park said in a statement.
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