Friday, July 10, 2009

Ms. Napolitano: Tear Down The Walls

NBC San Diego
July 8, 2009
by R. Stickney

There’s no other place like it. It’s a place where officials have met; where religious groups can gather. If it’s lost, supporters say there will be no place on the U.S.-Mexico border where ordinary people can meet face-to-face without checkpoints or guard shacks.

In an open letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, the Friends of Friendship Park are hoping to restore public access to the park area along the border between San Diego and Tijuana.

The area served as a meeting place for decades until the Department of Homeland Security under Michael Chertoff built several barriers. The belief was that a simple fence separating the two countries was a threat to U.S. security.

Since then, the coalition of community groups has been fighting to have access to the area restored. On Tuesday, the group sent a letter signed by over 70 community-based organizations to Secretary Napolitano.

John Fanestil, a member of the leadership team of Friends of Friendship Park, said they're beginning to see some movement.

“It would be a real disaster if we reduce the border to a battle zone," Fanestil said. "There must be room for friendship on the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Enrique Morones, with the Border Angels said he is greatly encouraged by recent discussions between activists, community groups and government agencies. “We are a coalition made up of people from all walks of life,” he said Wednesday. “Friendship has no borders.”

The group has even gotten the support of California State Attorney General Jerry Brown who is interested in restoring public access to land owned by the state.

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