The New York Times has this story today looking at the federal government’s plans to beef up the border fence at the Friendship Park.

The story, with an Imperial Beach dateline, says this:

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. – At a time of tumult over immigration, with illegal workers routed from businesses, record levels of deportations, border walls getting taller and longer, Friendship Park here has stood out as a spot where international neighbors can chat easily over the fence. …

With construction expected to begin early next month, the federal and state governments are still negotiating how to provide some access to the monument. But more than a few San Diegans see a paradox in an area meant to celebrate friendship taking on tones of distance and separation. Pat Nixon, the former first lady, at a dedication here in 1971, declared, “I hate to see a fence anywhere” as she stepped into Mexico to shake hands.

And it has these vignettes from the lives that intersect on both sides of the border at the park:

Jacqueline Huerta pressed her face against the fence on the Tijuana side to get her first look at her 4-month-old niece, Yisell.

“Oh, how cute you are,” she exclaimed, forcing her hand through an opening to caress the baby’s hair.

“Where else can she do that?” said her mother, Socorro Estrada, who drove six hours from Bakersfield, Calif., with family members to the fence. The baby’s father said he was on probation and could not leave the country and, in any case, the baby’s grandmother had advised them against traveling into Mexico with such a young infant.

Nearby, the Rev. John Fanestil, a United Methodist minister, offered his weekly communion through the fence, passing the wafer through a hole to a small gathering on the Mexican side. (Technically, that was a customs violation, but Border Patrol agents nearby tolerate most casual contact.)

“Arresting a clergy person for passing a communion wafer through the fence would be a public relations nightmare for them,” Mr. Fanestil said with a smile just before beginning.

ANDREW DONOHUE

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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