Friendship Park Border

VALLEY VILLAGE, CA – Political asylee, Yanel Valenzuela, visits Friendship Park to see her mother on weekends because she cannot enter the U.S. Valenzuela is not able to return home to Mexico because of her asylum status as a transgender.


Credit, Maria Teresa Fernandez.

Valenzuela applied for political asylum in 2011 and it was granted in 2012. She says, “I can’t go to my home country because of my passport execution in Mexico. This is where I see my mom and unfortunately we cant hug each other.”

The only psychical connection allowed at the park is touching fingertips through the fence. Once a year the park organizes an event called, Door of Hope, to open the border and allow hugging. Border patrol agents carefully select a small number of families to participate. This year Valenzuela was amongst the six families

Credit, San Diego Union Tribune

Valenzuela’s brother, Alex Valenzuela says, “I believe this is a better way than a phone call, at least I can see her face to face. It’s kind of hard I’m not able to hug her or anything.” The first time his two year-old daughter was held by her grandmother was at the Door of Hope event last month.


Credit, Maria Teresa Fernandez.

In recent years the border was completely fenced because of the war on drugs, before families had physical interactions. Law enforcement is not allowed to ask for documentation at the park. Organizations like Undocumented and Unafraid, and Border Angels visit the park in support of immigration. They’re able to meet people who have family in Mexico and provide useful information to them.

Border Angels, Enrique Morones says, “As we’re here at Friendship Park there’s people trying to cross, people dying out in the desert is a sad situation so we want humane immigration policies. I’m living for the day when there is no wall.”


Credit, YES! Magazine.

Around 10,000 people have died while crossing the US-Mexico border since 1994 when Operation Gatekeeper was implemented. Immigration from Mexico has dropped 40% since President Trump has been in office. People from both nations come to Friendship Park to visit their family and friends at the U.S Mexico border.




By Mabelynn Capeluj.

Contributions from Friendship Park, Border Angels, PEW Research Center.

Photo, Maria Teresa Fernandez, San Diego Union Tribune, YES! Magazine.

Video, CHIRLA.


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