Photo Essay: A Divided Friendship

On the Tijuana side of Friendship Park (also known as Border Field State Park), an elderly couple patiently waits for their son to arrive to the U.S. side of the park, so that they can enjoy his company for a little while despite the secondary border wall. The primary border wall is open a few hours each weekend during the summer months, to allow family visits like this to take place.

* Please cite text and images to Harry L. Simón Salazar, and include a link to this page.

Viejita and viejito in the Plaza de Toros, Playas de Tijuana. This is the park on the Mexican side of the U.S. Mexico border between Tijuana and San Diego.
They patiently wait for the arrival of their son, who agreed to meet them from the U.S. side of the border known as “Friendship Park.”
There is substantially more life and activity on the Mexican side. Live banda music, food vendors, couples taking a stroll…
The west side of the old Tijuana bullring is in the background.
This iron mesh was installed about ten years ago to impede human contact between the pillars of the border wall. U.S. authorities argued that this was necessary to stop people from passing anything across the border. Visitors can still touch each others fingertips through the mesh.
The iron mesh was only installed in the special area set aside for weekend access during summer months. During the week this area is off limits, and it is generally inaccessible during the winter.
The iron mesh was only installed in the special area set aside for weekend access during summer months. During the week this area is off limits, and it is generally inaccessible during the winter.
On weekends during the summer, families that have been divided as a result of immigration policies gather on both sides of the border. They usually chat, sometimes they cry, but invariably they spend special time together, marking this place as both beautiful and tragic.
This area is most often filled with family reunions. On the Mexican side it is has also become an important site for public art. On the U.S. side it is often frequented by right wing groups seeking to promote the intensification of border enforcement.
The old Tijuana bullring and lighthouse are in the background, on the Mexican side of the primary border wall.
Pull away from the primary border wall enough and the secondary wall comes in to frame.
This secondary wall was installed in 2008, funded through the Department of Homeland Security as part of a wave of border enforcement policies enacted after the 9-11 terror attacks.
This secondary border wall is much more imposing than the first, and incorporates multiple forms of surveillance technologies in its design.

When I asked the family for permission to take their pictures and share their story, they agreed but with the condition that I not use their names and only share pictures of the parents. Their son did not want his picture made public for fear of getting in trouble with U.S. immigration authorities.