Friendship Park / El Parque de la Amistad is a binational park located six miles west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, among the busiest border crossings in the world. Friendship Park sits atop Monument Mesa, overlooking the spot where the border wall now dives into the Pacific Ocean. Friendship Park can be accessed from the US through California's Border Field State Park or from Mexico through the beautiful Tijuana neighborhood of Playas de Tijuana.
From the time the US-Mexico Boundary Commission first met at this location in 1849, at the end of the US-Mexico War, people of good will from both nations have gathered at this historic location. At the center of Friendship Park stands a stone monument, the original boundary marker put in place in the aftermath of the War to demarcate the new border. The monument sits precisely on the international boundary, half its base in the United States, the other half in Mexico.
For generations there were no border barriers of any kind at Friendship Park. Old-timers in San Diego remember riding their bicycles across the international boundary to surf and eat tacos in Tijuana, returning by the same method at the end of the day. At different times, the international boundary here has been demarcated by low-hanging rope, by a few strands of barbed wire, or by a durable chain-link fence.
In 1971, the surrounding area in the United States was inaugurated by First Lady Pat Nixon as California's Border Field State Park. On that occasion, Mrs. Nixon declared "I hope there won't be a fence too long here," and then asked her security detail to cut the barbed wire on the border so she could step into Mexico and greet an adoring crowd. She also announced the intention of the governments of both nations to create "International Friendship Park," modeled after the many such parks on the US-Canada border. This dream remains alive in the hearts and minds of people on both sides of the border, as can be seen in our BUILD THAT PARK! campaign.
In 2006, the US federal government took land by eminent domain from the State of California, and, after waiving dozens of laws intended to protect public spaces like this one, constructed an elaborate system of walls across the face of Friendship Park. The Friends of Friendship Park advocated for continued public access to the space, and beginning in 2011, San Diego Border Patrol officials opened the U.S. side of Friendship Park for limited hours each weekend, allowing people from the United States to enter between the two border walls, where they could speak to loved ones through the thick metal mesh that now covers the "primary wall."
Thousands of people residing legally in the United States, but who lack a status that would allow them to travel to Mexico, depend on Friendship Park to be able to reunite with their loved ones. It is a common occurrence to find parents bringing their children to meet their grandparents for the first time through the border wall at Friendship Park. It is a common occurrence for people to say goodbye to dying loved ones here as well. Friendship Park is also a preferred location for residents of the San Diego-Tijuana region, who gather here to work in the Binational Friendship Garden of Native Plants, to worship at The Border Church, or to celebrate with friends at annual events like La Posada Sin Fronteras and the Fandango Fronterizo.
While Friendship Park remains fully open, accessible, and joyously well-utilized in Mexico, San Diego Border Patrol officials have progressively restricted public access to the U.S. side of Friendship Park in recent years. In February 2020 they completely closed the Park and have made no commitment to its re-opening.
The current restrictions on public access to the U.S. side of Friendship Park make a mockery of the notion of international friendship. We invite you to join us in embracing the deeper truths that the United States and Mexico are friends, not enemies, and that friendship is the foundation of US-Mexico relations. You can join the Friends of Friendship Park in saying "Open Friendship Park" and "BUILD THAT PARK!"