Customs and Border Protection hit pause Thursday on plans to erect a more modern 30-foot border wall at Friendship Park in San Diego, bowing to complaints from the community.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had approved the new construction in May, saying it was critical to addressing “safety risks” to agents and migrants alike.
But San Diego activists and local lawmakers said they hadn’t been consulted and demanded a halt.
CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus agreed Thursday, but he made clear he intends to move forward with construction at some point.
“We have heard concerns about the project as currently planned, and it is important to me to be responsive to the local community on this issue. I look forward to continued conversations with the community regarding this project during the pause,” he said.
Friendship Park is a space on the western edge of the 1,950-mile boundary between the U.S. and Mexico. It has traditionally been used as a place for families with members on both sides of the border to meet, talk and even share food through the fence.
In recent years authorities on the U.S. side have limited access times and placed mesh fencing to prevent sharing through the barrier.
Mr. Mayorkas said in May that the barrier had been corroded by waters from the Pacific Ocean and needed to be replaced.
CBP said Thursday it is committed to reopening the park for a minimum of two days a month once the new wall is completed.
The border wall was former President Donald Trump’s most visible campaign promise. His administration erected more than 450 miles of new barrier, much of it replacing outdated fencing built in the Clinton, Bush and Obama years.
The Trump administration had plans for nearly 300 more miles of construction but President Biden halted all work at the start of his term. During the campaign he had promised not to build “another foot” of the wall.
The White House last week insisted that the new construction Mr. Mayorkas authorized doesn’t break that pledge.
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