Friendship Park to Close

A meaningful location for families who have loved ones in Mexico will soon be off limits

By Elena Gomez and Sarah Grieco
Saturday, Mar 23, 2013 | Updated 5:42 AM PDT

Friendship Park at the U.S.-Mexico border will be closing in two weeks because of sequester cuts.

The Border Patrol says they have been forced to downsize their budget, which means they will need to close the park.

The park draws big crowds from the U.S. and Mexico, where people chat through a chain-link fence separating Imperial Beach and Tijuana.

Opponents to the closure say the park is a necessary part of the relationship between the Mexican and American border.

“You see families really typical at Friendship Park,” said James Brown with Friendship Park Coalition. “They have families come from many days bus ride in Mexico and even Central America, to visit relatives in the U.S. and the meeting place is Friendship Park.”

Brown said they have worked with the Border Patrol to keep budget low, only opening park on the weekend for a couple hours a day which only requires one border agent.

Customs and Border Patrol issued the following statement to NBC 7 San Diego:
"The automatic budget reductions must be applied to virtually every program, project, and activity that DHS has and will negatively affect the mission readiness and capabilities of the men and women on our front lines.”

The Friendship Park Coalition plans to meet with Border Patrol in the coming weeks to negotiate keeping the park open and supporters said they have hope their park will stay.

It is expected to officially close on April 6.

Friendship Park to Close | NBC 7 San Diego