Friendship Park is a binational park located along the United States-Mexico border, the park did not have a fence dividing the two countries until 1994, people were able to spend time during the day monitored by the US Border Patrol. Over time restrictions have been implemented, on the U.S. side there is a four window on Saturday and Sunday and no more than 10 people are allowed at once in the park whereas in Tijuana there are no restrictions.
A family visits loved ones and talks through a thick fence at Playas de Tijuana.
A family at the border fence at Playas de Tijuana, MX, visits their relative who is on the U.S. side and talks to them through an open weave metal fence.
The border fence on the Mexican side has a lot of colorful artwork and often times relating to social and political issues.
Part of the binational garden with native plants is maintained on both sides of the border fence between Mexico and the United States. A volunteer tends to the garden at Playas de Tijuana.
Dan Watman grew up in Modesto, California. Watman teaches Spanish across the border in Imperial Beach and lives in Tijuana, MX. He started the garden in 2007 that grows on both sides of the fence through a group he founded, Border Encuentro, the goal is to build friendships between both countries. On the Tijuana side the garden includes vegetables for the hungry. The garden grows within three circular plots, two that are about ten feet in diameter and one that is about thirty feet in diameter. Dan stands in the garden in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico.
Part of the binational garden at Playas de Tijuana, MX.
A family looks through the fence.
Looking into Friendship Park from the Mexican side after the border agent closed the gate.
Many veterans who have legal permanent residents but are non-citizens and have served their time in the United States military is not excluded from deportation if they commit a crime. Due to Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, these non-citizens are subjected to deportation for a crime that carries a sentence of one year or longer, that also includes misdemeanors.
Some Mexican veterans who have committed crimes in the U.S. will do their time and when released are deported to Mexico, at times leaving families behind. Many veterans who are deported and have families in Southern California decide to live in Tijuana so that they can be close.
Once upon time people could meet face-to-face at Friendship Park along the United States-Mexico border. There was a time when there was no border marker, and then there was a chain link fence that separated the U.S. and Mexico. After 911 border security became tighter. The fence was renovated in the early 1990s and again in 2009, when a second metal fence closer to San Diego was also added.
Miguel Perez moved to the U.S. legally when he was 8 years old. Miguel has two kids who were born in the U.S., he is a veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan. Miguel feels because of what he saw fighting for the U.S. in Afghanistan that he came back to the United States with PTSD. He was deported to Mexico. Miguel's citizenship was denied because of a felony drug charge. Due to his case being complicated, his life is up in the air and not sure what his future holds. Miguel currently lives in Tijuana, Mexico.
View from the Mexican side of the border fence at Playas de Tijuana, MX.